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" Full many a lady 
I have eyed with test regard ; and many a time 
The harmony of their tongues hath into bondage 
Brought my too diligent ear : for several virtues 
Have I liked several women ; never any 
With so full soul, but some defect in her 
Did quarrel with the noblest grace she owed, 
And put it to the foil. But you, O you, 
So perfect and so peerless, are created 
Of every creature's best." 

Profound excitement prevails in Llandrysak this sunny August 
morning. Dog-carts dash wildly down the fragment of inchoate 
street, whose chief feature is the post office ; phaetons and pony- 
carriages unknown to Llandrysak wind gaily across the common, 
and appear on the railway bridge. The station disgorges a 
crowd of smartly-dressed young women and their attendant 
swains, who swarm over the little settlement, and forthwith make 
for the one establishment which provides refreshment of a light 
and unintoxicating character ; for the people who come to 
Llandrysak are, as a rule, temperate ki the extreme, and hardly 
know the meaning of a public -house. 

Mr. Cates — the purveyor of things in general, from butcher's 
meat and bacon to tea, sugar, confectionery, and fancy biscuits ; 
from bread, butter, and eggs to greenstuff and fish — has been 
labouring all night in the sweat of his brow to prepare adequately 
for this peaceful invasion. Monster hams await the sacrificial 
knife ; quartern loaves wall-in one side of the well-used counter ; 
all the interior accommodation available in Mr. Cates's private 
abode has been thrown open for the reception of visitors ; and 
tea and coffee are in perpetual preparation. But the most Mr. 

6 Hostages to Fortune. 

Cates can do in this way falls short of his patrons' demands. 
They storm his passage, they swarm upon his stairs, and throng 
his rooms, even trying to invade the sanctity of his bedchamber, 
and wax loud and savage in their demands for accommodation 
and refreshment, until Mr. Cates — although feeling that he is 
making money as fast as he can drop it into his till — wishes 
that his customers were less numerous or less importunate ; or, 
in his own words, wishes that he " had known beforehand that 
there would be so many ; " though what he would have done had 
he been so informed, seeing that his house has no power of expan- 
sion, and that he has no yard or garden available for the erection 
of a tent, must ever remain a mystery. Whatever power of 
expansion his business premises possess has been exercised to the 
uttermost ; for he has absorbed as much of the roadway as he 
can venture to encumber without detriment to the public. The 
space before his busy little shop is spread with trays of tarts and. 
buns, hot and hot from the oven, promptly renewed as the 
hungry visitors consume them. 

And wherefore this inroad of the surrounding neighbourhood 
into quiet little Llandrysak, famous only for its saline and 
sulphur springs, and in its normal condition the tranquil resort 
of: health-seekers and water-drinkers ? Question easily answered. 
For the last fortnight placards have adorned the public places of 
Llandrysak — the gates of the market hall, the portal of the post 
office, and the railway station — setting forth that on this third of 
August an Eisteddfod would be holden at Llandrysak, and 
numerous prizes — ranging from ten pounds to five shillings — 
would be awarded to successful competitors in the art of music 
and dramatic recitation. A monster tent has been brought from 
a distant city — Llandrysak is a good forty miles from any large 
town — and erected behind the pretty little modern Gothic church 
on the common yonder ; and after braving the breeze for a day 
or two has ignominiously collapsed on Sunday afternoon, to be 
re-erected with increased stability on Monday. To-day is Tuesday, 
and the tent still stands bravely. The warm summer sky and 
soft west wind promise a glorious noontide, and at half-past 
nine o'clock the inhabitants of surrounding villages are pouring 
into Llandrysak as fast as the single line of rail can bring 

Perhaps of all the quiet out-of-the-way places in this sea- 
bound isle, there is none more tranquil, more remote from the 
busy world, than Llandrysak. It is certainly not a town, it is 
hardly to be called a village. Two large and prosperous hotels, 
and three or four smaller hostelries — which are rather public 
boarding-houses than inns — hare sprang up around the mineral 

Hostages to Fortune. 7 

springs. Three or four shops and about half a dozen lodging- 
houses have been built on the edge of an undulating common ; 
and the new church, erected by public subscription, looks down 
upon the little settlement from its elevation on the aforesaid 

Llandrysak is situated on a plateau seven hundred feet above 
the sea-level, and all around it rise the green Cambrian hills, not 
mighty peaks, like Snowdon or Penmaenmawr, but lovable hills, 
grassy and ferny — hills that tempt the pedestrian, and seem to 
cry aloud even to the idlest lounger : " Come, climb our gentle 
breasts, and breathe the purer ether that circles round our heads." 

Quiet and remote though Llandrysak is, it is eminently popular 
in its way. The hotels and lodging-houses are full to plethora 
in the season, and guests are billeted at outlying farmhouses to 
an alarming extent, considering the number of the lodgers in 
relation to the space available for their accommodation. In 
sheltered nooks upon the hill-side, in rustic lanes, you come upon 
lowly homesteads, which to the stranger's eye appear in no wise 
too spacious for a farmer's household, and which yet afford board 
and lodgment to fifteen or twenty water-drinkers in time of 

Of the two hotels, the Cambria is select and aristocratic, 
judiciously dividing its guests into two sections, known as Lords 
and Commons ; and the Spring House popular and easy-going. 
Wondrous stories are told of the chaff and practical joking which 
obtain at the latter hostelry, and the matrimonial engagements 
apt to result from a week's residence therein. Pianos are heard 
long after midnight ; amateur concerts and Christy minstrelsy 
diversify the monotony of social intercourse. Picnics and ex- 
cursions of all kinds are of daily occurrence ; and the click of 
croquet-balls without and billiard-balls within may be heard 
from morn till midnight. The more quiet Cambria has ks 
croquet-lawn also, sheltered by surrounding groves of spice-breath- 
ing pines, and its spacious billiard-room over the stony chamber, 
where the unsavoury waters are dealt out by complacent maidens 
across a pewter-covered l>ai, suggestive of Spiers and Pond — 
awful chamber, pervaded ever by the odour of innumerable 
rotten eggs, which odour is the delightful characteristic of a 
sulphur-spring in perfection. 

This pump-room stands flush with the more aristocratic wing 
of the Cambria, and its doors and windows open upon the 
croquet-lawn and piny groves, and a broad space of gravel before 
the house. An avenue leads from the hotel down to a little bit 
of road that crosses the common and joins the high-road — for the 
Cambria stands in a genteel seclusion, about half a mile from 

8 Hostages to Fortune. 

the settlement that lias grown up in the neighbourhood of the 
railway station. 

From the p\i'np~room, on this sunny August morning, emerges 
a gentleman, who wipes his lips with a cambric handkerchief, 
and wears a disgusted expression of countenance. 

" Upon my word, Dewrance, I can't stand much more of it," 
he exclaims. " Faugh ! assafoetida would be ambrosial in 

Mr. Dewrance, in clerical costume — faultless black and Koman 
collar — is lounging on a bench outside, smoking an after-break- 
fast cigar, with contentment depicted upon his visage. He is a 
wandering light in the ecclesiastic system, and has come to do 
duty at the unendowed church on the common for the season. 
He is not at Llandrysak for the waters. 

" What does it matter how nasty the stuff is if you think it's 
doing you good ? " he asks languidly. 

The morning is too warm for much exertion. Even the clerical 
mind needs repose after the labour of performing matins for the 
edification of about a dozen females in an advanced stage of 

"Ah, it's all very well for you to talk like that," remonstrates 
the other. "In the first place you don't drink that nauseous 
stuff ; and in the second, it would jump with your notions of 
self-mortification — fasting, abstinence, and all that kind of thing 
— to imbibe obnoxious waters. The sort of thing St. Francis 
d'Assisi would have liked, you know." 

"Are you going to the Eisteddfod?" asks Mr. Dewrance, 
calmly ignoring these remarks. 

" Are you ? " 

" That depends. Slingford Edwards is to be there in full 
force," with a wry face ; " and I don't much care about the 
business. But I promised some ladies — " 

" Of course ; I never knew such a man ! Your whole life is 
frittered away in such small engagements ; not an hour that is 
not pledged to a petticoat. Dewrance, in spite of your varied 
experience of life, your travels, your knowledge of the world, 
you are still what you were born to be." 

" What is that ? " inquires Mr. Dewrance, with the faintest 
show of curiosity. 

" A tame cat." 

"Why not?" asks the Curate placidly. "Tame-catism isn't 
half a bad thing in its way. I like women and women like me. 
I can make friends of them. I don't flirt, and I never commit 
myself ; and then I look to women to help me in the serious 
business of my life. A priest can achieve great victories with 

Hostages to Fortune. 9 

an army of women at his command. How are our churches 
beautified, our sick tended, our poor fed, our children taught 
and cared for and civilised? Do you think the masculine 
element goes for much in these things ? No, Westray ; women 
are the Church's strong rock. As they were the last at the foot 
of the cross, so they have become the first at the altar." 

" Upon my soul," ejaculates Westray, pulling his dark-brown 
moustache, " I begin to think that women exercise a great deal 
more influence than we give them credit for ; more than half the 
world is under petticoat government." 

" Why don't you join the majority?" asks Dewrance, with a 
keen look at his friend. 

They have known each other less than a fortnight, yet are on 
those friendly and familiar terms which men slip into so easily. 
llerman Westray is a man who has made himself a name in the 
world of letters. He began his career as a journalist in the year 
he left Oxford, and has only lately shaken himself free from the 
trammels of the daily press. He has won reputation as poet, 
dramatist, critic, novelist, and is a power in literary circles. 
Stimulated by success, and proud of his budding laurels, he has 
worked his brain to the verge of exhaustion, and has come to 
Llandrysak Wells at the advice of a wise old doctor, who at- 
tended him nine-and-twenty years ago for chicken-pox and croup. 

" Why don't you look out for some nice girl who would re- 
concile you to the idea of matrimony ? " pursues Dewrance. 
"You're just the kind of man who is bound to go to eternal 
smash if he doesn't marry." 

If Mr. Dewrance's vocabulary is more modern than eccle- 
siastical, it must be urged in his excuse that he has not been 
long in holy orders, and that his previous experiences have been 
of the world worldly. 

"I never found a nice girl yet," replies Westray. "I have 
met handsome girls, clever girls, fascinating girls, but never the 
woman to whom I could say, ' Take my life into your keeping, 
and be my better angel. Come between me and my evil thoughts ; 
lead me into the path of peace.' " 

" Girls nowadays are awfully fast, I admit," says Dewrance, 
gravely, " unless they are Anglican. Try an Anglican girl." 

"No, thanks. A young woman who would get up at five 
o'clock in the morning to embroider an antependium, and neglect 
the housekeeping. I shouldn't like a free-thinking girl, you 
understand, but I should prefer her religion to take its colour 
from such teachers as Richter and Carlyle." 

Dewrance shrugs his shoulders with a deprecating air, and 
rises from his recumbent position. 

10 Hostages to Fortune. 

" I think we'd better go and have a look at the Eisteddfod," 
he says, " in spite of Slingford Edwards." 

Slingford Edwards is the Nonconformist light of Llandrysak — 
Wesleyan or Baptist, no one seemed very clear which ; but 
eminently popular among the natiyes. He holds forth thrice 
every Sunday from his rostrum in the red-brick chapel, and 
appears on weekdays with his manly form equipped in a costume 
at once agricultural and sportsmanlike, his well-shaped legs, of 
which he is justly proud, encased in 'worsted hose, his feet in 
emart buckled shoes. 

This gentleman's popularity at Llandrysak gives him im- 
portance at the national festival. He is deputy-chairman, and 
does most of the hard work, Mr. Morton Jones, the squire, being 
only required to make a condescending speech, and sit in hi3 
armchair, smiling blandly across a little table, throughout the 

" Let us go and see how Slingford Edwards does it," says 
Mr. Dewrance, throwing away the stump of his cigar. 

They stroll down the avenue and across the common, where 
even on this warm August day the west wind blows pure and 
fresh. Green hills ring them round like a girdle, and beyond 
the green rise loftier peaks, russet-brown or deep purple-tinged 
gray, melting into the blue cloudless sky. 

" I believe your sulphur and saline springs are a gigantic hum- 
bug," cries Herman Westray, looking round him with the artist's 
love of the beautiful. " But those hills and this pure air might 
reanimate exhausted mankind on the brink of the grave. I'm 
very glad my good old doctor sent me here." 

" Yon look twice as good a man as you did when you came," 
answers Dewrance. " I never saw such an exhausted specimen 
of humanity. Yon looked like a consumptive vampire." 

" I had been working six hours a day, or six hours a night, at 
literature for the last three years. That sort of thing does tell 
upon a man, especially when he tries to combine social enjoy- 
ment with intellectual labour — dines out three or four times a 
week, wastes his afternoons at garden parties, goes to the opera 
whenever the heavy swells sing, attends all first performances at 
the theatres, and so on ; thus reducing his working time to the 
small hours between midnight and morning." 

" Dreadful !" cries Dewrance. " I wonder you're alive." 

" 0, that's habit. If I were to think of the unwholesomeness 
of my life, I dare say I should die. The quiet of the grave would 
seem preferable to such high pressure. But I take things easily.'' 

" You look like it," says Dewrance, Avith a side-glance at his 
friend's hollow cheeks and davklv-ci'mlod «»» 

Hostages to Fortune. 11 

" Llandrysak has done mo no. end of good. I had acquired an 
uncomfortable habit of falling asleep over my desk, which hinted 
at apoplexy, and now I am as fresh as paint. I have written two 
acts of a comedy since Saturday." 

" I thought you were here for rest." 

" 0, comedy dialogue hardly counts as work. Besides, I am 
pledged to give Mrs. Brandreth something sparkling for the 
opening of the autumn season at the Frivolity." 

"The Frivolity? That's one of the new theatres, isn't 
it ? " 

" All that there is of the most new : a house like a bonbonniere 
by Siraudin ; all quilted canary satin and gold, with a back- 
ground of burgundy-coloured velvet ; medallion portraits of 
Shakespeare's heroines on the panels — though what Shakespeare 
has to do with the Frivolity is more than any fellow can under- 
stand. In fact, it's a charming little box. The actors are most 
of them ex-cavalry subalterns ; the actresses — well, there isn't a 
plain woman among them." 

" Mrs. Brandreth herself is a handsome woman, I've heard," 
says the Curate. 

" It would be a bald description of Myra Brandreth to call her 
handsome," answers Herman. " She is simply one of the most 
fascinating women who ever turned the brains of men. As for 
beauty, perhaps there are some handsomer, in her own theatre 
even ; but there is a kind of loveliness about Mrs. Brandreth 
which I never saw in any one else. It isn't a question of eyes, 
or nose, or complexion, or figure. She breathes an atmosphere 
of beauty." 

" Poetical," says the Curate ; " one would think you were 
among the men whose brains she has turned." 

" Not I. My part in life is rather that of observer of other 
men's follies than partaker in their delusions. I contrive to dis- 
pose of my surplus idiotcy in magazine articles." 

'' Isn't your Mrs. Brandreth a woman with a history ? " asks 
Dewrance. " I seem to remember having heard — " 

" ' There is a history in all men's lives.' Yes, they tell divers 
romantic legends of Mrs. Brandreth." 

" Antecedents rather discreditable than otherwise," hazards the 
Curate, who from the spiritual altitude he inhabits' bends his ear 
occasionally to murmurs from the mundane level beneath. 

"Mrs. Brandreth is an English officer's daughter, and an 
English officer's widow. I know nothing further to her dis- 

" But come, now, don't people say that Lord Earlswood built 
this theatre on purpose for her ? " 

12 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Theatres are generally built by some on«, and for some one," 
answers the imperturbable Herman. 

" I haven't been inside a theatre since I took orders," says M^. 
Dewrance. " The opera, of course, is different. I take a seat in 
a friend's box now and then." 

They are close to the tent by this time, and the twanging of a 
harp within announces that the competition is in progress. They 
pay for their tickets at a little wooden watch-box outside the 
tent, and then, instead of entering with the commonalty, go 
round to the back, and make their way straight to the platform, 
Mr. Dewrance being a privileged person, for whom a place is 
reserved among the magnates of the land. 

These magnates consist of a few country gentlemen, with their 
wives and daughters, who occupy a double row of benches on 
the platform, and thence survey the crowded audience below. 
Mr. Morton Jones, the chairman ; Mr. Slingford Edwards ; Mr. 
Evan Jones, the musical adjudicator ; Mr. Davis, the treasurer ; 
Mr. Bufton, the secretary ; and two or three other gentlemen 
officially concerned in the day's proceedings, are clustered about 
a table in the centre of this platform. 

The body of the tent is as full as it can be, and the audience, 
perspiring but happy, are listening with rapt attention to an 
ancient Welsh song which a young man of the carpenter pro- 
fession is singing to an accompaniment on the harp. It is really 
a spirit-stirring strain, with a fine bold swing in the melody, and 
better worth hearing than that slaughter of Handel and Haydn 
which the audience will have to assist at before that entertain- 
ment is over. 

Competitors in the ancient Welsh minstrelsy being nowhere, 
the melodious young carpenter has a walk over the course, and 
receives the prize — half-a-sovereign in a little silken bag, with 
long ribbon strings, which are hung around his neck by the fair 
hands of a damsel, who mounts the platform for that purpose 
amidst the applause of the crowd. 

The next entry is the great event of the morning. Competing 
choirs are to sing Haydn's grand chorus " The Heavens are tell- 
ing " for a prize of ten guineas, and an ebony-and-silver baton 
for the conductor. Profound excitement prevails as the names 
of the competitors are announced. Only two choirs have been 
found bold enough to essay the contest, and, after a brief delay, 
the first of these, consisting of about five-and-twenty young 
men and women, mount the platform, the conductor stands upon 
a chair, to be better seen by his band, and all is ready for the 

There is to be no accompaniment, no symphony to induct the 

Hostages to Fortune. 13 

singers in the right path. But from an unseen corner of the tent 
there issues the lugubrious sound of a tuning-fork. The singers 
make a dash at the opening note, start off at a hand-gallop, and 
hold bravely on till they finish breathlessly amidst friendly 

Choir number two succeeds, and begins with a false start. The 

Eitch has to be given a second, nay a third, time by that lugu- 
rious tuning-fork in the corner — a fact to the last degree 
ignominious. But once off, choir number two has the best of it ; 
the alto parts ring out more clearly, the time and ensemble are 
better, and there remains little doubt in the minds of the listeners 
as to the destination of the ten-pound prize and the ebony baton 
worth one guinea. 

Mr. Evan Jones, the adjudicator (no relation to Mr. Morton 
Jones, the squire), advances to the front. He is a small active- 
looking man, with a keen dark face, and a brow prophetic of 
future distinction. He carries a sheet of music-paper, on which, 
with ruthless precision, he has recorded the errors of the rival 
choirs. He expresses himself tersely, and with a certain good- 
natured irony, not unpleasing to the audience, however galling 
it may be to the performers, whose work he criticises. 

" The first choir," he begins blandly, " sang by no means 
badly, and in fact the performance was very creditable indeed." 
(The first choir takes courage, and sees its way to the prize.) 
; ' But they were in too great a hurry to distinguish themselves — 
the opening movement was taken at a gallop. Now there's no 
glory to God in such a stampede as that." (Laughter.) The 
first choir looks crest-fallen. '' They sang, on the whole, tolerably 
correctly. There was a G natural that ought to have been 6 
flat ; but this we may attribute to nervousness, as well as the 
fact that they took the largo movement presto. The altos were 
painfully weak ; the basses were a trifle flat. But, on the whole, 
as I remarked before, we may consider it a creditable perform- 
ance, and that it does honour alike to their heads and hearts. 
Now, with regard to choir number two, I am bound to remark 
that they made a very bad start — took the note wrong twice over ; 
a very unmusician-like proceeding. If the composer had meant 
the chorus to begin with that kind of floundering about, he would 
have so written it. But there can be no doubt that the second 
choir redeemed their characters after this bad beginning by very 
Batisfactory work. Their time was better than number one ; 
their forte passages were firmer ; their performance had more 
light and shade ; " and so on, and so on, through a careful 
criticism of the performance. " I, therefore, feel it incumbent 
upon me to award the ten-pound prize to the Llanvaerlog choir, 

14 Hostages to Fortune. 

and the prize baton, value one guinea, to the conductor of the 

Unanimous applause follows the decision. Mr. Slingford 
Edwards takes a yellow-satin bag from a nail on which it has 
hung in sight of the audience, looks about him doubtfully for a 
moment, and then confers in a whisper with the chairman. They 
are consulting as to the fair hand which is to bestow this guerdon 
— the chivalrous practice of the Eisteddfod requiring that each 
prize should be given to the happy winner by a lady selected 
from among the more distinguished of the assemblage. 

" Miss Morcombe," suggests Mr. Edwards, in a whisper. 

" Yes, decidedly," replies the chairman, " if she's here. Couldn't 
have any one better." 

This ten-pound prize is the grand feature of the entertainment. 
The ten-shilling and rive-shilling guerdons maybe given by any- 
body, but the donor of the chief prize must needs be a person of 

Slingford Edwards slips behind one of those benches on the 
platform, bends over a young lady's shoulder — a young lady who 
sits in the back row, and who has been hidden from the gaze of 
the public. He whispers a few words in her ear — there is a stir 
and a gentle flutter around her — she rises, and the Reverend 
Slingford leads her blushing to the front of the platform, 
where the expectant choristers wait, closely huddled together 
and open-mouthed. 

" Ladies and gentlemen," roars Slingford Edwards above the 
universal hum, " I am proud — we. are all proud, and I am sure 
you will, every man of you — yes, and every woman — for when 
was woman's heart slow to throb in unison with man's most 
generous emotions ? — participate in that feeling when I tell you 
that the great prize of the day will be awarded by Miss Mor- 
combe, the lovely daughter of the most popular landowner — • 
always excepting our respected chairman — in these parts. Miss 
Morcombe of Lothwithian Priory. Now, Mr. Sparks," to the 
conductor, " down on your knees, and let the memory of this 
moment never fade from your mind ; let it be a stimulus to 
future exertion, a guiding star to lead yo'u to glory. Why don't 
you kneel, you blockhead ? " sotto voce to the winner of the 
prize, who looks as if he had only that moment discovered that 
his arms are appendages of an awkward and embarrassing 
character, so limp and helpless are his hands, so painfully angular 
his elbows. 

" Three cheers for Miss Morcombe of Lothwithian," cries Mr. 
Edwards ; whereon the audience, who have had to do a good deal 
of cheering already, respond feebly, with flagging: energies. 

Hostages to Fortune. 15 

The prizes are given — first the baton, and then the yellow -satin 
bag ; and Miss Morconibe curtsies and retires, led by the gallant 
Slingford. During the last five minutes she has been the focus 
of every eye, but no eye has gazed more intently than the eye of 
Herman Westray. 

" What a sweet-looking girl ! " says Mr. Westray to his 

" Yes, she's nice, isn't she ? I'll introduce you, if you like. 
She's very clever — likes literary people — likes to talk about them, 
at least ; for I don't think she knows many. Serious girl — 

"Gets up at five o'clock on saint days, I suppose," says Her- 
man. " Bather a trial, I should think, that kind of girl." 

" I withdraw my offer to introduce you," says Mr. Dewrance, 
with a disgusted look. 

"0 nonsense! I shsuld like to know her. What would her 
getting up at five o'clock matter to me ? I am but a bird of 
passage. Yes, she looks clever as well as pretty, and looks good 
into the bargain. A fine firmly-moulded face, something out of 
the common in the expression. Put her into a suit of armour, and 
she would do for Joan of Arc. Please introduce me." 

" I'll take you over to the Priory to luncheon to-morrow. I 
have carte blanche te take any one nice." 

" Introduce me to-day. Is that sportsmanlike party with the 
foxy whiskers her father ? " 

" Yes, that's Mr. Morcombe — fine fellow — good old Saxon 
family — pedigree that goes back to Hengist and Horsa — looks 
down upon people who date from the Conquest." 

"No end of money, I suppose?" 

" Humph ! " ejaculates Dewrance doubtfully ; " no end of land, 
if 3 7 ou like, but money dubious — ready cash at a premium. 1 
believe Miss Morcombe inherits something from her mother, but 
nothing considerable. People who trace their lineage as far as 
Hengist and Horsa are seldom heavily ingotted." 

" Introduce me, please." 

" Wait till the Eisteddfod is over. I'll ask them to luncheon at 
the Cambria." 

Mr. Westray sighs. He is not intensely interested in the 
musical contest. A young person of eleven is rattling through 
one of l'rinley Ilichards's fantasias upon a national air, with 
more patriotic fervour than discretion. There is to be a Welsh 
song in character after the pianoforte-playing ; and a recitation, 
Hamlet and the Ghost, after that. So that Mr. Westray, studying 
his programme intently, hardly sees his way to the conclusion of 
the entertainment. 

16 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Can't we get out, Dewrance ? " he asks fretfully ; but Mr. 
Dewrance is whispering to the chairman, and has something to 
say to most of the ladies on the platform, and is, in short, in his 
glory as arbiter of feminine opinion in Llandrysak. 

Bnt, lo, presently, comes an unlooked-for diversion. The 
sunshine which illuminated the tent a quarter of an hour ago has 
vanished, and a cold grayness prevails in its stead. Now comes 
the patter of raindrops on the canvas, heavier and heavier, and 
the assembled multitude begin to have an uncomfortable feeling 
that canvas is porous, and that there are, moreover, various holes 
in the tent through which the rain is already descending pretty 
smartly, to the detriment of new bonnets. Umbrellas go up. 
Mr. Dewrance has three pretty girls clustering under his ser- 
viceable Sangster. Murmurs of discontent arise at the back of 
the tent from eager souls whose vision is impeded by the front 
ranks of umbrellas. The Eeverend Slingford remonstrates with 
the umbrella-holders ; urges that while the contest is going on 
they should submit to be rained upon rather than interfere with 
the enjoyment of the majority. 

" I should like to know who could enjoy themselves in such 
weather as this ? " grumbles a sturdy farmer in the front row ; 
" there ought to have been a tarpaulin." 

" We didn't pay our money to be drenched to the skin," ejacu- 
lates another. 

" Think of your second crop of grass," urges Slingford Edwards, 
" and what a blessing this gentle shower is for you." 

Meanwhile the rain falls faster ; it splashes and patters upon 
the piano, so that the last young interpreter of Brinley Richards 
is fain to stop short in the middle of her performance, and the 
piano is shut, and covered with green baize. The harp is also 
shrouded ; the smart little satin bags are thrust under cover. 

The elite upon the platform huddle together anyhow, and 
little pools of water lie upon the abandoned benches. The 
Eisteddfod comes to a dead stop, and the only question among 
the audience is whether it be wiser to stay where they are, or to 
brave the fury of the tempest in crossing the narrow ridge of 
common, which lies between them and shelter. Miss Morcombe 
is standing by her father, sheltered by his umbrella, and en- 
veloped in a dark blue cloak, which drapes the tall full figure 
from head to fo^t. In the confusion that prevails Herman has 
ample leisure to scrutinise the Squire's daughter unobserved. 

Yes, she is handsome, certainly ; but that which most attracts 
Herman Westray, to whom a handsome woman is no rare 
spectacle, is the something loftier and nobler than common 
beauty which distinguishes that innocent young face. The 

Hostages to Fortune. 17 

modelling of the features is somewhat, large ; there is that fulness 
of outline which one sees in a Greek statue, not one sharp angle 
in the face, yet the lines supremely regular. The complexion is 
not fair, but has that fresh bloom which comes of an open-air 
life ; the eyes are darkest gray, so dark that till they turn and 
meet his own Herman thinks them black ; the hair darkest brown, 
and superabundant, for the thick plaits coiled closely at the back 
of the head are innocent of padding. Franker, fairer counte- 
nance never smiled upon mankind. No dangerous Circcan. 
fascination here — nothing of the siren or the Lorelei in this 
young English maiden — no " history " in her glad young life. 
Herman feels that he is face to face with happy innocent 
girlhood, and draws a deep breath of gladness, as if he felt 
himself in a purer atmosphere than the air of his evwy-day 

A thunder-peal bursts and crackles over the tent. The raia 
comes down faster than ever, more thunder and lightning, then 
a lull, and the rain grows less. 

" It's holding up," says Dewrance, who has been to the door to 
reconnoitre. " I really think we'd better get away while we can. 
You and your papa must come to the Cambria and have some 
luncheon, Miss Morcombe. I shall be so pleased if you will, and 
then you can come back for the afternoon performance." 

" Heavens," exclaims Westray ; " isn't it all over? " 

" No, there's another contest in the afternoon, and a concert in 
the evening." 

Herman makes a wry face, whereat Miss Morcombe laughs 

" You don't care for our Eisteddfods," she says, ignoring the 
fact that he has not been introduced to her. 

" I don't admit that. The Eisteddfod is charming in its way, 
but, like all other good things, one may have too much of it. I 
pity the people who are coining back to this damp tabernacle 
this afternoon." 

" Thanks for your compassion," says Miss Morcombe. " I 
wouldn't lose ' Rejoice greatly ' on any account." 

" There's no rain now, Miss Morcombe. You'd better come," 
interjects Dewrance, offering his arm, and they go out — the 
Curate and his fair young charge in front, Westray and the 
Squire straggling after. The piano has been opened again, the 
umbrellas are down, and another juvenile executant is slaughter- 
ing Brinley Eichards. 

" 0, I'm afraid I forgot to introduce you to each other," says 
Dewrance, looking back. " Mr. Westray, Miss Morcombe. Mr. 
Westray, Mr. Morcombe," 

18 Hostages to Fortune. 

The Curate had a somewhat offhand manner with these mag- 
nates of the land. He esteems them for their ancient lineage, 
their hroad acres, but in his own mind he occupies a higher in- 
tellectual level, from which he looks down upon those rustic 
Philistines urbanely. He is the salt of the earth, without which 
their life would be savourless, and is calmly conscious of his 
claim on their gratitude. What can be more magnanimous, for 
instance, than his presence in this remote Welsh watering-place ? 
Has he not dissevered himself from all the amenities of progress 
in order to secure the enlightenment of these barbarians ? 

" Changeable weather," says the Squire with a friendly air. 

" Very. Are you going to have a good harvest ? " 

" Yes, it'll be a great year for cereals. Turnips are bad, clover 
poor, and we've had hardly any hay to speak of on account of the 
dry summer. This is a sheep country ; we don't grow much corn." 

" So I perceive. Charming country for ferns. Plenty of lime- 
stone. Miss Morcombe is great upon ferns, I daresay." 

" Yes, I think she knows all about everything in that way. 
She's great in horticulture. I call her my head gardener. You 
must come over to the Priory and see her rose-garden, and her 

Miss Morcombe is questioning her companion meanwhile. 

" Did you say Westray ? " she asks eagerly. 

" Yes, his name is Westray." 

" Herman Westray, the novelist, the dramatic author?" 

" The same." 

" How good-natured he looks! " wonderingly. 

" Did yon exjoect a laughing-hyenaish physiognomy ? " 

"I don't know what I expected. He writes like a man who 
ndmires nothing, believes in nothing, despises the world he lives 
in, and yet he writes so beautifully that one feels as if there were 
a mine of deep feeling under all that cynicism." 

" A mere trick of the trade," sneers Dewrance. " Cynicism has 
pold wonderfully well ever since Thackeray set the fashion, and 
these young men out-Herod Thackeray, without a tithe of his 
genius. They are as melancholy as Solomon in Ecclesiastes, and 
they inlay their Eochefoucauldism on a groundwork of Byronic 
passion. They take all the tricks and manners of departed 
genius and make an olla podrida of their own, and call that lite- 
rature," with ineffable contempt, " and are dazzled by the glitter 
of their tawdry mosaic, and think themselves geniuses." 

"Mr. Westray doesn't look as if he were conceited," says Miss 
Morcombe meekly. She has read his books, and heard of his 
comedies, and it seems to her a privilege to see him in the flesh. 
Living amongst agricultural surroundings and purely common- 

j.j.usiuyes 10 fortune. l'J 

place people, she may be forgiven if she has over-exalted ideas 
about a popular writer. After all, it is the Philistines who are 
readiest to worship notoriety, which, in their innocence, they 
mistake for renown. 

They enter the pine-wood avenue that leads to the hotel. The 
sun has shone out hotly again, and all the piny spikes and 
feathery fir-branches glitter with raindrops, as with innumerable 
ellin lamps. This avenue is dusky even on the brightest day, 
offering welcome shade and coolness after the glare of the 

Mr. Dewrance leads the way to the coffee-room, sacred to the 
more select patrons of the Cambria. Hospitable preparation has 
been made for this festival day ; the sideboard is loaded with 
ham and sirloin, tongue and chicken. The Curate makes straight 
for a small round table in the bow-window that commands the 
avenue and a glimpse of sunlit common beyond, just the nicest 
6pot in the room. Miss Morcombe and Herman Westray seat 
themselves opposite each other, the Squire drops into a chair 
next his daughter, and Dewrance goes to the sideboard to cater 
for his guests, and to press one of the busy native waiters into 
his service. 

Herman has plenty of time now to study the fair young face 
on the other side of the cozy round table. As a weaver of 
romance, he is naturally a student of humanity, and in any 
stranger may find a type. He looks at this girl thoughtfully, 
reverently almost. She seems to him a being of idyllic purity. 
There is a freshness about her beauty, a youthful candour in its 
expression, which, to his fancy, is the very spirit of rustic inno- 
cence ; not the innocence of milkmaid or shepherdess, but of a 
damsel of lofty race reared in the sweet air of her native hills, 
simple as Perdita, high-bred as Eosalind. 

She is certainly beautiful, more absolutely beautiful than he 
had believed her at first. The dark rich hair which waves a little 
at the temples, the pencilled eyebrow, the noble modelling of 
mouth and chin, might satisfy the most exacting critic. And 
this is no doll-faced beauty. There is mind in that fair young 

" I was so pleased to hear from Mr. Dewrance that you are the 
Mr. Westray," she begins somewhat shyly ; " the author whose 
books have given me so much pleasure." 

" Have you really read them V " asks Herman, delighted. "I 
did not know my scribble had penetrated so far." 

" Do you suppose we are quite Boeotians ? We have our box 
from Mudie once a month ; and I have read, at least I think I 
have read, all you have ever published." 

20 Hostages to Fortune. 

"My daughter is a tremendous reader, devours a boxful of 
literature monthly — travels, biographies, Lord knows what. I 
believe she thinks herself a cut above novels, unless they are 
something out of the common. I don't know how she finds 
time to open a book, what with her schools and her house-keep- 
ing and her gardening and her church-going." 

" There is generally one hour in the day that I can contrive 
to steal for a quiet read," says Miss Morcombe, " and perhaps I 
enjoy my books all the better because I am obliged to limit my 

" Have you so many duties?" asks Herman, with only a languid 
curiosity. His interest in the Squire's daughter does not extend 
beyond her face. He is in no wise concerned to know the 
manner of life she leads in her barbarous fastness amid the wild 
fern-clothed hills. 

" Many duties ! " exclaims Dewrance, coming back laden with 
a salad-bowl and cruet-stand, and attended by a waiter with 
roast fowls and tongue and a dainty shoulder of lamb. " I 
should think she has indeed. There are not many parish priests 
who work harder than Miss Morcombe. You showld see her 
schools. I don't know any in England so perfect, on a small 
scale of course, but absolutely perfect." 

Herman pushes back the loose brown hair from his forehead 
and gazes at Miss Morcombe with a puzzled look. He has ever 
detested everything that verges upon strong-mindedness, inde- 
pendence, self-reliance, in a woman. The women he has 
admired hitherto belong to the papilionaceous tribe ; women who 
are more concerned in the supply of stephanotis at Covent 
Garden than in the price of bread ; women who are ready to 
die if they miss a favourite opera, and have neuralgia if their 
dressmaker disappoints them ; women who are "a little low" on 
the slightest provocation, and require to be sustained with pints 
of Pommeroy or Cliquot between breakfast and kettledrum; 
women whose high-priestess is fashion, and whose religion is 
dress ; whose gravest reading is a risque social article in the 
Saturday Review, and whose poetry and sentiment are derived 
from modern French novels. 

Such women as these Herman has hitherto found ineffably 
charming ; not good enough for marriage, or the unrestrained 
confidence of friendship, but delightful for airy social com- 
panionship. Women with whom to waste a summer afternoon 
at Wimbledon or Hurlingham ; with whom to discuss the last 
fashionable scandal in cleverly-chosen half-words ; from whose fair 
hands to receive the refreshing cup of orange-scented pekoe, or 
the invigorating glass of vermuth. With such as these — the lilies 

Hostages to Fortune. 21 

of Hire's field — he lias gaily ridiculed the women who toil and 
spin — the women with mind ; the serious virgins who rise at 
cockcrow on saints' days, and are never found with lamps un- 
trimmed. He has ridiculed feminine effort of all kinds — philan- 
thropic, artistic, Evangelical, or Anglican; has scouted the idea 
of feminine duty ; and has taken for the motto of his ideal 
woman the lotos-eater's listless burden, " Let us alone." 

And now behold him face to face with a young woman whose 
duties are manifold, and whose calmly beautiful face impresses 
him as no other face has done since those days of adolescence 
when every fair-haired school-girl seemed a Helen. 

They talk about literature, Dewrance expounding positive 
opinions in that sledge-hammer voice of his ; Herman less 
vehement, but more trenchant, his wit having a sharper edge than 
the Curate's. Miss Morcombe talks unrestrainedly ; her favourite 
poet is Tennyson ; her favourite poem, The Idyls of the King. 
For the sensuous in art and poetry she has no sympathy — nay, 
she shrinks from the very names of those writers who are its 
chief exponents, and is silent when Herman praises a singer of 
the Da Musset school. She has read no French novels, but she 
knows Chateaubriand and Lamartine by heart, Herman discovers. 
Rococo rather, thinks the modern man of letters, with his catholic 
appreciation of modern turns of thought. This Squire's daughter 
seems to him tolerably well read in all that is best worth reading ; 
a being of infinite knowledge as compared with his lilies of the 
field, who take a pretty pride in their ignorance, and make it, as it 
were, a new accomplishment to know nothing. ' 

Dewrance talks of art while he mixes the salad. He is a man 
who has travelled much, and learned many things ; among others 
the making of a salad, on which he prides himself. 

" "What an insipid business luncheon is in a country hotel ! " he 
exclaims. " Now I could take you to a restaurant in the Seven 
Dials, where I used to go a good deal before I was in orders, and 
give you half a dozen hors-cT ceuvres by way of appetisers. Here 
one must put one's trust in a bowl of lettuces — no tarragon or 
chervil — not an anchovy for love or money — the nearest lobster 
to be heard of at Tenby." 

Miss Morcombe confesses to an appetite which does not require 
to be stimulated by anchovies or caviare. 

" Papa and I breakfasted at seven," she says, " and I've no 
doubt we shall do justice to our luncheon." 

" Strange ! " thinks Herman ; " here is a woman not ashamed 
to admit that she can eat." 

His social sirens have, for the most part, languid appetites, but 
a considerable power of suction. They exhibit a placid uncon- 


22 Hostages to Fortune. 

eciousness when attentive serving-men fill and refill their glasses, 
and absorb the contents thereof unawares. 

The luncheon proceeds gaily. Dewrance is always good com- 
pany, and the others have plenty to say. The Squire eats and 
drinks and holds his peace. He is neither literary nor artistic ; his 
tenants have been backward with their rents lately, and he has 
cares which make him thoughtful. Herman looks at him, and 
wonders how a man so eminently commonplace can have such a 

Two o'clock strikes, and the room grows clear. The second 
part of the Eisteddfod begins at half-past two. Miss Morcombe 
puts on her gloves, an operation which Herman watches atten- 
tively, as if it were the most interesting spectacle to see pale- 
gray kid-gloves drawn upon a pair of dimpled hands, not so 
white as the hands of those sirens he wots of— somewhat sun- 
browned, indeed, but the perfection of form. 

" I think it is time for us to go, papa. You have to take the 
chair, you know, this afternoon." 

" Yes," sighs the Squire, " it's a pity Jones doesn't do it. lie's 
better at that kind of thing than 1 am." 

" but, papa, you know what you ought to say ; the pleasure 
you feel in the development of native talent, the softening and 
elevating influence of music, how it brightens all our homes — 
the humblest as well as the loftiest ; and how glad you are to see 
so many familiar faces round you, all smiling anil happy; and 
how you hope this first Eisteddfod ever held at Llandrysak will 
not be the last ; and how you will do your utmost to maintain the 
custom among us ; and so on, and so on." 

" I shouldn't want any ' so on ' or ' so forth,' if I could get 
through all that," says the Squire. " You women have such glib 
tongues. I wish you could speak the speech for me, Editha." 

" I wish I could, papa. I should like to stand up among the 
people I've known from childhood, and tell them how I love their 
customs and themselves. Indeed, I wish I could." 

" And indeed, Editha, you would do it well, and they would 
like to hear you." 

They rise to go, Dewrance and Westray both in attendance. 

" You won't care to hear any more of the Eisteddfod," says 
Miss Morcombe, smiling at Herman. 

" Yes ; I mean to attend afternoon service — I beg your pardon, 
Dewrance, the- afternoon contest." 

" But you were tired of the music this morning." 

"I shall not be tired this afternoon. H five-and-twenty 
young Welshwomen come forward one after another to sing 
' Angels ever bright and fair ' — it's in the programme, I think — 

Hostages to Fortune. 23 

and hold on for hours, I will show no sign of impatience. I will 
stand ' Pious Orgies ' like a lamb. I will submit unconditionally 
to the Welsh song in character." 

"I'm glad you have a corner of your heart to spare for our dear 
old country," says Editha, with a pleased look. 

" I only hope that I may not leave more than a corner of my 
heart in your principality," he answers, with ever so slight a 

They go back to the tent in the sunlight. All the scene is gay 
and bright ; no more umbrellas. Smart bonnets and feathered 
hats shining out, little the worse for the morning's rain ; faces 
smiling and rubicund, after copious refreshment of a teetotal 
character at Mr. Cates's. 

Squire Morcombe makes his speech, on the lines laid down by 
his daughter. If trite and somewhat feeble, he at least appears 
friendly, and the audience cheer lustily. The harp strikes up with 
a lively Welsh air; then comes one of Handel's choruses by 
divers working men in their Sunday clothes, who acquit them- 
selves not amiss, for these Welshmen have a natural love of and 
capacity for music, and sing part-songs with the zest and tune- 
fulness of German students trolling out their Volkslieder. 

The afternoon wears on ; there is a good deal of repetition, 
but Herman Westray endures with resignation. He is seated 
next Miss Morcombe, and is making a study of her character, 
with a view to putting it to some literary use by and by. He 
talks to her in the pauses of the entertainment, which are 
numerous ; and although " Angels ever blight and fair " has 
been sung seven times consecutively, he thinks the contest 
rather too short than otherwise when all is over, and Mr. Mor- 
combe takes his daughter to the wagonette which is waiting for 
them outside, in company of various other conveyances. 

" I wish you were going to stop for the concert," says Dew- 

Herman says nothing, but has desires upon the same subject. 

" I wish we were, but it is such a long drive to the Priory, and 
papa likes to dine at home." 

"Never got a decent dinner at Llandrysak," answers the 
Squire decisively. "Bring your friend over to-morrow, Devv- 
rance, and let Mm see the ruins, and Editha's conservatories." 

" I should be too delighted," says Westray, not waiting for the 
Curate to respond. 

" I've been thinking of bringing him," replies Dewrance, " re- 
membering what you were kind enough to say about my friends." 

" Of course, of course. Be sure you come early ; wo lunch 
at two." 

24 Hostages to Fortune. 

Miss Morcombe is seated in the wagonette by this time ; they 
all shake hands with effusion. 

"Auf Wiedersehen," says Herman, as he releases Editha's 
hand, with just that shade of tenderness which he is apt to 
assume in his converse with women. A mere trick of tone and 
manner, perhaps, but not without effect. 

" Editha," he says to himself softly, as he and Dewrance walk 
up the avenue ; "a fine Saxon name. It suits her admirably." 

" Well, what do you think of Miss Morcombe ? " asks the 
Curate briskly. " A superb girl, isn't she ? A woman worth any 
man's winning." 

'' A woman to make a good man a noble wife," answers 
Westray gravely ; " but a woman whom a worldly man ought to 


" Because she is not of the world, but above it." 

" Can a man have too good a wife ? " asks Dewrance incredu- 

" I can imagine no greater misfortune for a man than to bo 
mated to a woman who is above him." 

" His self-respect or vanity would be wounded by finding a 
superior in his wife ; is that what you mean ? " 

" I mean that his whole life would be out of joint. To be 
reasonably happy, or fairly united, a man and his wife should be 
on the same level. No good ever came, in legend or fairy tale, 
of the union of mortal and immortal." 

"Ah," sighs the Curate dubiously, " you have such a romantic 
way of looking at things. I only wish I had a shadow of a 
chance with Miss Morcombe ; " this with a deeper sigh. " I am 
not too proud to say that I think myself infinitely below her, yet 
I am bold enough to believe that I could make her life happy and 
my life worthy of her." 

" That is quite possible. But you are a better man than I. 
You have definite aims, and high ones. You are in earnest, and 
have proved your earnestness by the sacrifice of worldly advan- 
tage. Now I have no aim beyond winning a certain measure of 
transitory popularity, and as much money as publishers or 
managers will give me for my wares. Nothing earnest, nothing 
exalted there. And how could such a life as mine mate with 
Miss Morcombe's ? There is not an hour of the day in which our 
opinions and feelings would not differ." 

" Provided that you have not committed murder or forgery, 
and that your worst sin is want of earnestness, I don't suppose 
that Miss Morcombe would be afraid to undertake your reforma- 
tion," says the Curate, with a shade of bitterness. He has seen 

Hostages to I'orlime. '2b 

that Westray lias made more impression upon the lady's mind in 
a few hours than he has been able to make in two months, 
despite the fact that Editha's sympathies are all with him and his 

"Upon my word, Dewrance," says Herman seriously, "if I 
thought there were the slightest danger of my falling in love 
witli that young lady, I would pack my portmanteau, and go back 
to London by the mail." 

" If you are of that way of thinking, pack your portmanteau," 
replies Dewrance with energy. " Editha Morcombe is not a 
woman for whom a man can measure his regard. To know her 
is to admire her ; and who can tell in what moment admiration 
may ripen into love ? " 

" I am not afraid," answered Westray lightly. " In the first 
place, I have long since used up my susceptibility, and in the 
second, I detest strong-minded women. Now while I admit that 
your Miss Morcombe is eminently noble, I can see that she ia 

" She is certainly not weak-minded, and she thinks for her- 

" Precisely. Now a woman who thinks for herself would 
never do for me. My wife — if ever I marry — must be subordi- 
nate as the moon to the sun. I will love her and cherish her and 
work for her, and her wigwam shall be as fair as my toil can 
make it ; but my squaw must be a fond and gentle creature, 
whose thoughts and likings will take their colour from mine." 

" Heaven forbid that Editha Morcombe should ever be reduced 
to such a level ! " ejaculates Dewrance fervently. 

" My dear fellow, there is no such thing possible. 

"It were all one, 
That I should love a bright particular star, 
And think to wed it." 

Hostages to Fortune. 


" Helas je n'oserai vous aimer, ineme en reve ! 
C'est de si bas vers vous que mon regard se love ! 
C'est de si haut sur moi que s'inclinent vos yeux !" 

The Squire's injunction to be early has not been forgotten. Mr. 
Dewrance and his friend drive away from the pine-groves of 
the Cambria on the stroke of noon. The day is warm and bright, 
the sky almost Italian ; the russet hills in the background of the 
landscape, the verdant undulations of the foreground smile under 
a vault of cloudless sapphire. It is a day on which the mind 
goes to sleep, and a sensuous delight in sunshine and beauty is 
paramount in every breast ; a day on which life loses the sharp 
edges and angles of care and thought, and lapses into the indis- 
tinct sweetness of a dream. 

Dewrance drives the dog-cart. He is always ready for the 
active duties of life. Westray sits beside him, for the most part 
silent, looking dreamily at the landscape, which, alter the first 
three miles, is new to him. They enter a region of wooded 
banks, where oak and larch and mountain-ash grow tier above 
tier on rough ledges of earth rising sheer like a wall, and held 
together by fern and interwoven roots; a region of loftier hills 
and deeper valleys ; a region of infinite beauty. 

"Yes, it's a pity," says Herman at last, after a long silence. 

" What's a pity ? " 

" That 3 r ou and Miss Morcombe can't make a match of it. You 
would suit each other admirably." 

" Perhaps," says Dewrance ; " but unfortunately she doesn' 
see things in that light." 

" Time may open her eyes to the fact." 

" Do you think if I had any chance of success that I would 
take you there ? " • 

" What, have you so exalted an idea of my fascinations ? " asks 
Westray, with a little laugh. 

" I think you are just the kind of man to attract the fancy of a 
girl brought up like Miss Morcombe." 

" Well," sighs the man of letters, " I have told you my ideas 
about marriage ; but even those are purely abstract notions 
which I doubt if I shall ever reduce to personal experience. 1 
am remarkably well off as a single man ; I enjoy ever so many 
privileges and pleasures which I should lose if I were to marry 

Hostages to Fortune. 27 

I earn more than enough money for my own requirements, and, 
indeed, have been able to invest a few superfluous thousands. I 
live just the life that pleases me. Why should I exchange the 
known for the unknown — placid contentment for uncertain 
bliss ? Why assume responsibilities which may or may not be 
counterbalanced by the joys they bring with them? " 

" You live the life that pleases you, you say," replies Dewrance, 
contemplating his friend with grave scrutiny. "Is there nothing 
unworthy in that life— nothing you would shrink from revealing 
to your mother or your sister ? " 

"Nothing — now," answers Westray. "I do not say that my 
life has been altogether blameless, or that there have not been 
episodes in it which I look back upon with regret." 

" And at two-and-thirty you hope to escape all future tempta- 
tion — all peril of peace or character — without the safeguard of 
wife and home ? " 

" Why not ? You are content to stand alone." 

" I have my duty, which is more than wife or children," replies 
Dewrance gravely. There is a quiet depth of earnestness in the 
Curate's character, despite its surface lightness. 

" It was the wisest of mankind who said that the man who hath 
wi He and children hath given hostages to Fortune," says Westray. 
" Xow I am not so sure of Fortune that I care to engage myself to 
her so heavily. Fortune may be friendly enough to a bachelor 
who asks her for no more than a second-floor in Piccadilly, and 
the run of two or three clubs ; yet may turn her back upon a 
•married man who has to pay house-rent and taxes, servants' 
wages and milliners' bills, and to take his wife and babies to the 
seaside, and send his eldest boy to Eton." 

Dewrance answers with a sigh. 

" I am willing to admit that civilised life is a problem," he says. 
"The Maories have no such difficulties." 

They are descending into a valley, a deep cleft between two 
hills ; a narrow river — sorely shrunken at this dry season — flows 
over its stony bed at the bottom of the gorge, and in a verdant 
hollow between the rivei and the higher ground along which the 
dog-cart is driving lie the ruins of Lochwithian Priory. 

Little of these remain — neither archway nor tower — only the 
solid foundations of chapel and cloisters, the massive stonework 
that formed the steps of the high altar, the broken base of a 
clustered column here and there at an angle. 

" The monks of old had a knack of finding the pleasant places 
of this earth," says Westray. "Valleys flowing with milk and 
honey, hill-sides famous for unapproachable mutton, woods 
peopled with game." 

28 Hostages to Fortune. 

" And they occasionally planted themselves on such fertile 
spots as Mount Athos or St. Bernard," answers Dewrance, whose 
Anglican mind has a keen sympathy with the Church of the 

" I daresay the Priory kitchen was built over that trout stream, 
..nd that the scullions washed their dishes in the running water," 
says Westray. " But pray where do our friends reside ? Do 
they encamp among those low walls, or have they a comfortable 
cavern in the hill-side ? " 

" The new Priory stands before you," replies Dewrance, point- 
ing to it with his whip. 

A wind in the road has brought them face to face with the 
mansion of the lord of the soil ; by no means a modern habita- 
tion, but of the Elizabethan era, with steep gables, mullioned 
windows, an oriel here and there at a corner. The house is built 
upon the slope of a hill, and stands above the raised road along 
which Dewrance and Westray are driving. It is large, rambling, 
irregular, and has evidently been expanded, but not within the 
last century. Time has mellowed the tints of the masonry, 
deepened the dark red of the brickwork, embroidered the massive 
chimney-stacks with mosses and lichens. The garden lies on a 
southward fronting slope, and one can fancy that the red wall 
yonder, behind the house, and on a higher level, is rich in ruddy 
peaches and apricots ; an old-fashioned garden overrunning 
with flowers. Straight gravel-walks intersect square grass-plats. 
Here stands a stone sundial, there a quaint old fountain. Raleigh 
might have smoked his peaceful pipe in just such a garden. 

" Thank Heaven it is not a perky modern place, all stucco and 
stuckupishness," cries Herman. 

" You dislike modern houses ? " 

" I would go ever so far out of my way to avoid living in one ; 
and if I could not afford Queen-square, Westminster, would 
prefer Bloomsbury to Belgravia. Even Abbotsford, despite its 
cherished associations, jarred upon me a little because I knew its 
mediasvalism was all carton-pierre." 

They are at the lodge-gate by this time. Below them, at the 
bottom of the valley, walled-in on three sides by hills, stands a 
gray stone church with a tall spire, modern Gothic — small, but 
perfect ; beside it the village school, a pretty Gothic building, 
larger than the sparse population of the district would seem to 
warrant. An inn of no great pretensions — the inns in Wales are 
of small account — and a little cluster of cottages make up all that 
is visible of the village of Lochwithian. Westray looks about 
him wonderingly. 

" It is like the end of the world," he says. 

Hostages to Fortune. 29 

The gate is opened and they drive up to the Priory. The fine 
old timber porch offers a cool and shadowy shelter from the 
blazing clay. The door within stands hospitably open, and they 
can see the hall, with its darkly-bright oak panelling, and fitful 
gleams of colour, and flash of armour against the deep-hued 
wood. The light from a painted window plays and flickers upon 
the carved coat-of-arms over the lofty chimney -board, a<nd leaves 
the rest of the hall in shadow. A family portrait looks out here 
and there through the dusk. 

" What a delicious place ! " exclaims Herman. " Miss Mor- 
combe will inherit this in due time, I suppose ? '' 

" Not unless her two brothers and their young families perish 
untimely in order to make room for her." 

" She has brothers, then ? " 

" Yes ; one, a captain of artillery, in Bengal ; the other, in- 
cumbent of a small living in Devonshire. Both of them married, 
and richly provided with olive branches." 

" Has she any sisters ? " 

" One, whom she idolises ; older than herself ; a confirmed 
invalid ; something amiss with the spine. She rarely leaves her 
own room, or receives visitors ; but she and I are firm friends." 

Three or four dogs come out to look at the arrivals, and re- 
cognise Dewrance, and are friendly to obtrusiveness : an oJd 
Scotch deerhound, a couple of greyhounds — numerous in this 
part of the country — and a black-and-tan collie ; which last the 
Curate distinguishes with especial kindness. 

" Good Lancelot, brave old Lancelot ! " he says, as the animal 
fawns upon him. 

" The collie is Miss Morcombe's favourite," remarks Westray 

" How do you guess that? " 

" By induction. The favour you showed him enlightened me." 

After the dogs appears an elderly serving-man, who rings the 
stable-bell, and takes the visitors under his charge. Before he 
can conduct them to a reception-room, a deep-set oaken door 
opens, and Editha Morcombe comes out of its shadow to greet 

Her dress is of some gray stuff, of wide sweeping folds and 
simplest fashion, altogether regardless of the last puffing, pleat- 
ing, quilling, flouncing, or gaging ordained by Parisian man- 
milliners. Her dark-brown hair is arranged with classic neat- 
ness ; she wears a linen collar, fastened with a knot of rose-huod 
ribbon. And thus attired, tall, svelte, with a certain dignity of 
carriage which harmonises with her nobility of feature and ex- 
pression, Editha Morcombe seems to Herman Westray the most 

30 Hostages to Fortune. 

perfect 'woman he has ever seen. She is not the most beautiful, 
or most bewitching, or the loveliest, or handsomest of her sex ; 
she is simply the most perfect. She entirely realises to his mind 
those deathless lines of Wordsworth's, about 

"A perfect woman, nobly plann'd," &c. &c. 

She welcomes them with a gracious cordiality. Her manner to 
the Curate is softened by a gentle reverence, which recognises 
his sacred calling even in the familiar converse of every- day life. 

" Papa is busy with his bailiff," she says, " but will join us 
directly he is disengaged. Would you like to see the gardens 
before luncheon .? We have just half an hour, and we can show 
you the church and schools in the afternoon." This to Westray. 

" I should like to see the garden of all things. From the 
glimpse I had of it as we came, I fancy it is quite my ideal 

" Eeally ! " she exclaims, brightening. " I am so fond of our 
garden ; it reminds me of Tennyson's poetry ; something dreamy 
and placid and quaint and old. You know the garden in 

" I know that there is a garden in Maud, and that the heroine 
is invited to walk in at just the most unhealthy period of the 
morning — typhoid and diphtheria rampant ; but I haven't the 
faintest idea what the garden was like ; whether it consisted of 
one acre or ten ; whether it went in for ribbon-bordering and 
bedding-out plants, or essayed the classical, with marble statues 
and conical cypresses and junipers." 

" I know Maud's garden by heart, and it was like ours," says 
Editha, smiling, as she leads them out into the sunshine. 

It is a dear old garden ; that one fact is not to be denied. The 
atmosphere is all warmth and perfume. With the odours of 
manifold Dijon roses, carnations, jasmine, clematis, mignonette, 
lemon and oak-leaved geranium, tuberose — all sweet flowers that 
blow — is mingled the thymy scent of pot-herbs and the savour 
of ripe apples from the kitchen-garden and orchard near at hand. 

There is no costly range of hothouses, like the Crystal Palace 
in little, but here and there, in odd corners, they come upon a 
small low-pitched greenhouse squeezed into an angle of the 
wall, and costing perhaps ten to twenty pounds in the building, 
full of loveliest exotics or rarest ferns, the cultivation of which 
is Miss Morcombe's peculiar care. Not for the decoration of a 
luxurious boudoir, where she may dream her idle hours away, 
does the Squire's daughter cultivate flower or ferji. The best of 
them are saved for the adornment of that little Gothic church 
which Herman has marked in the hollow. It is to beautify this 

Hostages to Fortune. 31 

temple on paints' days and church festivals that she rears her 
seedlings, and rises betimes to tend her fernery, and plans and 
arranges her succession of fairest, blossoms. She has flowers 
enough and to spare for the beautification of her father's house 
— especially her invalid sister's rooms — but the church is first in 
her thoughts and aims. Nor are her pains altogether without 
tangible reward. The country people flock from far and near to 
Lochwithian Church at Easter and Whitsuntide, on Ascension- 
day and at the Harvest Thanksgiving ; and Editha's soul is glad- 
dened by the enthusiasm of that rustic flock. 

One of the modest little greenhouses is a very bower of 
stephanotis ; the delicate tendrils clothe the sloping roof like a 
vine, the waxen sprays hang in overpowering profusion. 

" One might invent a new suicide here," says Herman, " much 
nicer than charcoal — done to death with sweetness. And pray 
what do you do with all these blossoms, Miss Morcombe ? " 

" We shall want them all for the reredos and reading-desk 
at the Harvest Festival," she answers ; whereupon Mr. Westray 
discovers that the fairest produce of her garden is dedicated 
to the church. 

"A pretty amusement for young ladies, church decoration," he 
remarks lightly ; " much better than point-lace or decalcomanie, 
and with some use in it, since the Beautiful is not without its 
influence upon the masses. But, for my own part, I prefer some 
solemn old abbey where never a flower has bloomed save in 
stonework sanctified by ages." 

"You can't have your solemn old abbey in every parish," 
answers Dewrance, "and while man's art can only glorify a city 
shrine here and there, God gives us flowers enough for every 
village tabernacle." 

Herman shrugs his shoulders. He thinks the subject hardly 
worth serious discussion. He has a dim sense of devotion in 
shadowy mediseval cathedrals, or looking at Vandyke's awful 
picture of the Crucifixion in the church at Antwerp, but his 
religion is like that of many men in his generation — nothing 
particular. Yet he has a feeling that religion is a very pretty 
thing in Editha Morcombe, and that this love of flowers and 
church decoration is a sweet and womanly sentiment. She is 
very good to the poor, Dewrance has told him, to little children, 
to the old and feeble, to the sick an angel of consolation ami 
love. All these things seem good in her, and he feels that she is 
too good for him ; that it would be better for him to marry a 
milliner or a ballet-girl, who ate peas with her knife, and had 
hazy ideas as to the objective case, than to be mated to such 
purity as this. 

32 Hostages to Fortune. 

He sighs as he emerges from the stephanotis bower, and is so 
lost in thought, that he runs against an energetic gentleman, 
stout and clerical, with a kindly smiling countenance, and a bull- 
terrier under his arm. This is Mr. Evan Petberick, incumbent of 
Lochwithian, and Editha's great ally. A saintly man, if unsel- 
fishness, kindliness of heart, and unremitting toil for others are 
in any wise the elements of saintliness. 

" Dear Mr. Petherick," says Editha, turning to him with an 
affectionate look — he is a second father, or at least an adopted 
uncle, in the household — " how good of you to come when I 
asked you ! I knew you would like to meet Mr. Dewrance 
again, you and he get on so well together. Mr. Westray, Mr. 

Mr. Petherick, who has very little leisure for general literature, 
greets the stranger somewhat carelessly, and does not take the 
trouble to inquire if this young man is the Mr. Westray. He 
pounces upon Dewrance, and the two divines walk off together by 
the sunny wall, where the peaches are ripening behind old fishing- 
nets, and talk clerical talk, and are happy. 

" I should like to look at that old sundial, Miss Morcombe, if I 
may," says vHerman. "If I may" means that he wishes her to 
show him that relic of antiquity. 

They walk across the sunny grass together : she, tall and 
straight and stately — " queen-rose of the garden ; " he, taller by 
half a head, and as thoroughly a gentleman in outward show as 
she is a lady. He has a faded look, as of having grown pale for 
lack of daylight. He looks as if he had worked by night, and 
lived by night, and as if the sunshine and fresh air were a new 
sensation to him. He has well-cut features, but the outline of 
his face is too sharp for beauty — no sculptor would choose him 
for Apollo or Antinous. He has hazel eyes, large, bright, clear, 
ftrfl of vivacity and expression ; hair of a lighter brown than his 
eyes ; whiskers a shade lighter. The chief charm of his counte- 
nance lies in its mobility ; the mouth has an infinite variety of 
expression. He is a man about whom people rarely make up 
their minds all at once ; a man who improves upon closer ac- 
quaintance, his friends say. 

He examines the sundial, with its Latin inscription, and then 
passes on to the stone basin, full of dark weedy water, athwart 
which gold-fish are glancing. 

" Pets of yours, this finny tribe, I suppose, Miss Morcombe ? " 
liazards Herman. 

Editha is sitting on the broad margin of the pool, and throwing 
morsels of biscuit to the voracious inhabitants. Herman seats 
himself near her, and thus from tal-king of gold-fish they slide 

Iluskujcs to Fortune. 33 

into more serious talk — of favourite books, favourite occupations 
—the dearest interests in the lives of each. 

" You live only to do good to others ; I live but to win a shred 
of fame for myself," says Herman at last, with deepest sigh. 
" How sorry a business my life seems beside yours ! " 

There is no straighter way to a woman's heart flian self- 
depreciation. Editha is interested in him from this moment. 

" If no one sought for fame, I suppose there would be no such 
thing as greatness," she replies thoughtfully. 

"The most lasting fame has been won by goodness rather 
than talent," answers Herman. " I don't suppose to Englishmen 
there is any higher name than Grace Darling's or Florence 
Nightingale's ; yet these owe their renown to noble deeds, and 
not to genius. Come, Miss Morcombe," with a slightly bitter 
laugh, "you were praising my books just now ; would you like to 
have written them ? " 

"No," she answers, raising her candid eyes to his; "because 
to have written them you must have known the worst side of 
human nature ; and God has given me a happy life among good 
people. I would not have your genius at the cost of your ex- 

Herman sighs, and is silent, looking down at the water and the 
frivolous gold-fish flashing across and across everlastingly, as 
if they were in a feverish hurry to get somewhere, and, having 
got there, panted to go back again. Herman knows young 
men about town who are as unmeaningly restless as these gold- 

A gong booms in the hall yonder. The dogs bark. The two 
Churchmen, who have been pacing up and down by the peach- 
wall, gesticulating violently, now turn their steps towards the 

" We are wanted at luncheon," says Editha ; whereon Herman 
rises and offers her his arm, which she takes half-reluctantly, as 
deeming this a needless ceremony. 

The dining-room is oak-panelled, cool, and dark, like the hall. 
Here are more family portraits — Lelys and Gainsboroughs some of 
them, but mostly uninteresting ; an o;iken buffet is well supplied 
with old family plate ; a rose-water dish in silver-gilt repousse 
work ; a two-handled tankard, puritanical and plain, of the 
Oromwellian period ; and a pair of candelabra. The table is 
furnished amply, beautified with fruit and flowers ; and the 
Squire, who has finished with his bailiff — a troublesome man, who 
wants steam-ploughs and threshing-machines, and no end of 
expensive machinery — greets his guests cheerfully. 

"I hope your sister is pretty well to-day, Miss Editha," says 

34 Hostages to Fortune. 

the Incumbent of Lochwithian, when he has said grace ; and 
Herman remembers that Editha has an elder sister. 

" She is better than usual, thanks ; it is one of her good days. 
You'll go and see her after luncheon, won't you, Mr. Petheriok ? " 

" Certainly, if I may." 

" And what do you think of Editha's greenhouses ? " inquires 
Mr. Morcombe. " Very shabby affairs compared with con- 
servatories in general, are they not ? " 

" I never saw ferns and flowers growing in greater perfection,' 
answers Herman. 

" My little girl has built every one of those hothouses out of 
her pocket-money ; and she and Jones the gardener have been 
the only architects employed." 

" If Editha told me she was going to build a pyramid like 
King Cheops, I don't think I should be surprised, or doubtful as 
to the result," exclaims Mr. Petherick. '* She has energy enough 
for anything — that is good," he adds, in an undertone. 

Dewrance says nothing, but gazes at the Squire's daughter 
with eyes of worship. The Squire smiles with a senile blandness, 
as if his daughter's praise was a sweet-smelling savour. 

"How they all love her!" thinks Herman. "It would be 
ridiculous for any one else to do so. She lives in a circle of 
praise and love. Hard for a man to break the ring, and say 
' she shall belong to me only.' " 

" We managed to build the schools between us, at any rate, 
Mr. Petherick," says Editha radiantly. 

" ' We ' is the idlest flattery on your part," replies the rector. 
" You managed to build them ; you gave — begged — borrowed 
the money ; you drew the design ; you supervised the builders. 
The foreman told me his men never worked at anything else as 
they worked at your schools. 'We like to oblige the young 
lady,' they said to him, 'and she looks right-down pleased when 
we've got on a goodish bit.' That's what it is to be pop ular 
with the working classes, Editha." 

After luncheon Dewrance is eager to take Herman off to the 
church, when Editha comes to them, with a curiously earnest 
as if she were about to approach some important subject. 

"If you would not mind, Mr. Westray," she begins shyly, "I 

ould so like to introduce you to my sister. She is a great 
invalid, poor darling, and rarely sees visitors ; but she has read 
your books, and been interested in them ; and I think she would 
like very much to see you. So few literary people come our 
way ; " with a smile. 

" I shall be honoured and happy," replies Herman ; but he 
follows Editha doubtfully, fearing that he mav bo about to be 



Hostages to Fortune. 35 

introduced to something unpleasant — something crooked and 
ugly — a stuffy sick-room, a nurse, and physic-bottles. The rule 
of his life has been a studious avoidance of all unpleasant things. 
Even for the purposes of art he has never brought himself face to 
face with horrors. He has never been inside a hospital, or 
studied the pauper race in its naked misery, or haunted dead- 
houses, or penetrated the abodes of crime. His monsters have 
been developed from his inner consciousness ; his morbid 
anatomy has been exercised on creatures of his own imagi- 

He follows Editha up. the broad oak staircase, where every 
newel is surmounted by the Morcombe crest — a lion sejant and 
regardant — into a lightsome gallery with many doors. One of 
these she opens, and ushers him into the prettiest sitting-room 
he has entered for a long time. Boudoirs blue and gold, 
chintz and satin-wood, ebony and ormolu, he has seen without 
number, till their elegance has become hackneyed and common- 
place ; but a room like this, in the full glory of the summer 
sunshine is new to him. 

The walls are painted white, carved garlands of flowers and 
fruit adorn panelling and cornice, an old Venetian glass over the 
high chimneypiece reflects a set of dark-blue delf jars, quaint in 
shape, perfect in colour. In each corner of the room is a 
triangular glass cupboard, filled with rare old porcelain ; in one 
window there is a fern case ; in the other, a cage of tiny 
crimson-beaked Indian birds. The chairs and tables are of 
the style made famous by Chippendale ; the draperies are 
embroidered muslin, lined with rose-coloured silk. On a sofa 
near an open window reclines the mistress of the chamber, 
dressed in a white-muslin morning-gown, with rose-coloured bows. 
There is nothing unpleasant to affright Herman's eye, nothing 
crooked or ugly. He sees a graceful-looking woman reclining 
on a sofa, with a highly-intelligent face turned towards him — 
Editha's face as it might look aged by ten years, and sharpened 
by sickness and pain. He is interested immediately. Suffering 
which assumes no revolting shape appeals to his best feelings. 

" Mr. Westray, my sister," says Editha, after gracious saluta- 
tions on both sides. 

Herman seats himself in the arm-chair nearest the invalid ; 
Editha perches herself on the end of the sofa. 

" Now, Euth," she says gaily, " you can ask Mr. Westray as 
many questions as you like about his books. You know how we 
have talked of them. Cross-examine him thoroughly ; pluck 
out the heart of his mystery. You won't mind, will you ? " half 
apologetically to Herman. 

3G Hostages to Fortune. 

She is ga_yer, more unconstrained than he has seen her yet. 
This elder sister is her second self : she is doubly strong when 
she has Ituth to sustain her. 

" Can I object to the question from such fair inquisitors ? " 
exclaims Herman with an amused look. 

" Pray, Mr. Westray, how did you come to have such a bad 
opinion of your fellow-creatures ? " asks Ruth gravely. 

Herman pulls his whisker with a puzzled air. 

" Upon my word, I don't know that I have a bad opinion of 
mankind," he replies thoughtfully ; " I like them very well in 
detail, though in the mass I am ready to agree with Miss 
Editha's favourite, Tennyson, that ' however we brave it out, we 
men are a little breed.' " 

" Your books are so clever," says Kuth thoughtfully ; " but I 
have always thought it a pity there are not more good people in 

Westeiy shrugs his shoulders. 

" My dear Miss Morcombe, goodness from an aesthetic point 
of view is the reverse of interesting. Faust is not good, Mephis- 
lopheles is candidly execrable ; but where can you match these 
for interest ? Othello is a grand and faulty being, overshadowed 
somewhat by the splendid iniquity of Iago. Macbeth belongs 
to the criminal classes. Virtue is so simple a matter, that it 
affords few opportunities for art. Vice and crime arc complex, 
many-sided, and offer infinite scope for the literary anatomist. 
There is no ground for speculation in the fact that a man does 
vrght ; it is only when he errs that he becomes enigmatic and 

"Yet Goldsmith has ventured to depict characters that are 
almost faultless." 

" Goldsmith was a humorist, and could afford to paint virtue. 
Humour relieves the insipidity of his hero's benevolence ; but 
Primrose described by a man without humour would have been 
an intolerable nuisance." 

"Thackeray has given us Colonel Newcome." 

"A humorist again. With anyone less than Thackeray the 
dear old colonel would have been an ineffable twaddler. And you 
will allow that even Thackeray's finest piece of work is not good 
Colonel Newcome, but bad Becky Sharpe." 

Ruth sighs, and looks at the speaker for a minute or so with 
dreamy eyes, deep in thought. 

"I wonder sometimes," she says presently, "that among so 
many books written for this generation, there are so few that 
seem calculated to make people better." 

Westray shrugs his shoulders a^ain, and begins to think this 

Jiusiai/fH to L\ if tune. 37 

white panelled chamber is something of a trap. Here he sits, 
helpless, between two serious-minded young 1 womo",i — he who 
has ever set his face against female serious-mindedness. 

"That is why I love Tennyson," cries Editha triumphantly; 
"one cannot read him without feeling better and braver; he 
raises the whole tone of one's being. His Arthur is the prince 
of gentlemen ; his Enid is the type of noblest wo.naii-hood ; 
Maud, Dora, the Gardener's Daughter, the Miller's Daughter, 
Lady Clare — who has ever painted such a gallery of true and 
pure women ? " 

" One Gretchen — victim and fallen — is to my mind worth all 
this cold perfection," says Herman irreverently. 

Tennj'son is the Aristides of modern literature, and younger 
singers are apt to grow weary of hearing him praised. 

Happily for Herman Westray, Mr. Petherick peeps in at the 
door, the bull-terrier under his arm. 

'' I thought you would like to see To23sy," he says to Miss 

Topsy is on the sofa in a moment, performing wild evolutions 
over the invalid's muslin draperies, and nestling against her 
pale cheek. 

" Go and show Mr. Westray the church, Editha," says the 
Rector, handing her a key ; " Dewrance is waiti^ for you some- 
where, I believe. Your sister and I are goingto have a long talk." 

Ruth smiles at him tenderly; lie is one of her most cherished 
friends. Those patient fingers of hers are never tired of working 
for his poor. He tells her all the troubles of his life — other 
people's troubles, for the most part — and she gives him comfort 
and counsel. There is a heavenly repose for him in this quiet 
room ; Ruth's society is the holiday-time of his every-day life. 

Editha and Herman go out into the garden, and by a shrubbery 
path that winds down the hill, to a little gate which opens into 
the churchyard. 

" A pretty church, isn't it ? " asks Editha, looking up at the 
slim Gothic spire, with its tref oiled finials and quaint waterspouts. 
" My dear mother built it the year before she died. It was her 
legacy to Lochwithian." 

u Mother an heiress, evidently," thinks Herman. 

They go into the church together, and Westray praises the 
interior warmly. 

It is perfect in its way, every detail carried out with extreme 
care. There is no pretence to splendour, but an exquisite purity 
distinguishes all. The prevailing tones are gray and white — 
polished Aberdeen granite and purest white marble. There is a 
memorial window over the altar — Christ bearing the cross, copied 


33 Hostages to Fortune. 

from a famous Raffaelle ; and on each side a smaller window — one 
the Good Shepherd ; the other, the Light of the World. These 
make a glow of colour in the narrow chancel. 

They go into the vestry, where, over a fine old oak muniment 
chest, hangs a careful water-colour copy of Vandyke's Cruci- 
fixion — that awful lonely figure against a sky of deepest gloom. 

" Who painted that?" asks Herman. 

" My sister ; she used to be very fond of painting when she was 
stronger. I do not mean that she was ever very strong, or able 
to move about much ; but she has been weaker lately. The 
fatigue of holding an easel would be too much for her now." 

" How sad for her ! This copy is remarkably good." 

" 1 am so glad to hear you say that," exclaims Editha, brighten- 

" Your sister seems to be as clever as she is charming." 

" You think her nice ? It is so sweet to hear her praised. She 
is so good, utterly perfect, I sometimes think ; for I never dis- 
covered any fault in her. She has borne suffering with a sublime 
patience. She is all charity, and love, and thought for others. 
Sinless herself, she is full of mercy for sinners. When Mr. 
Petherick has a difficult subject among his people, he brings the 
person to my sister. I have never known Kuth's influence fail. 
She has softened the hardest hearts." 

" You have reason to be proud and fond of her," replies Herman, 
touched by her enthusiasm. The women of his peculiar circle 
are not given to unmeasured praise of their sisters. 

"And now will you show me the ruins?" he asks. "lam 
curious to explore the foundations of the old Priory." 

" I can't imagine what has "become of Mr. Dewrance," says 
Editha, feeling that she is not behaving fairly to one guest in 
devoting herself exclusively to the other. 

" He is with Mr. Morcombe, no doubt. It is nearly five, and I 
know he means to leave here at half -past. Please show me the 

" Come along, then," laughs Editha, " if you are so anxious to 
Bee them. But there is no reason why you should not come here 

"None," saya Herman, " except — " and at that word stops 

Editha does not notice the unfinished sentence. She leads him 
through the Priory stables, and across a newly-planted orchard 
vo the verdant hollow where the ruins of the old walls stand, 
lichen-darkened, with mosses, spleenwort, and various members 
of the ferny tribe flourishing in the interstices of the rough gray 
Btonss, honeycombed bv wind and weather ; and then when she has 

Hostages to Fortune. 39 

shown liim the remains of wall and column they cross a little 
wooden bridge, and stray ever so far along the bank of the narrow 
stream, the wooded hill-side towering above them, and at their 
feet flowering rushes and yellow water-lilies, and a profusion of 
forget-me-nots, pink and blue. 

Here they talk of all manner of things, and forget the inexor- 
able _ march of time ; and Herman Westray acknowledges 
within himself, wonderingly, that even the society of a serious- 
minded young lady maybe pleasant. 

" It is all very well among these "Welsh hills," he reasons ; 
" one's mind is attuned to this kind of thing. But if I were to 
meet Editha Morcombe in London next season, I daresay I should 
find her awfully slojv." 

An hour later, and the two young men have driven away in 
the dog-cart, after the refreshment of five o'clock tea, and Editha 
sits on the end of her sister's sofa, discussing their new acquaint- 

"Do you like him, Euth? Do you think him as nice as 
his books ? You are such a judge of character, darling, I 
want to know if you really like him." 

Euth pauses thoughtfully before replying. 

"He has a clever, interesting face, dear; and I think he is 
better than his books. But then you know they never impressed 
me favourably, brilliant as they are. Yes, I think him very nice, 
Editha. But I would not for all the world that you should think 
of him too favourably." 

" Why, you absurd darling ! " cries Editha, blushing to the 
roots of her hair, " I have only seen him twice in my life, 
and may never meet him again. He came here to-day to see 
the Priory, not to see me. And I believe he is going away from 
Llandrysak almost immediately." 

" I hope it may be so, dearest," says Euth ; and then, after a 
pause, resumes with deepest earnestness : " 0, my darling^ you 
know that, come when it may, our parting will almost breal#rhy 
heart ; but Heaven knows that I would not delay that bittertime 
for an hour if I thought it was for your happiness to leave me. 
Let the husband of your choice be but worthy, dear, my wannest 
affection shall go with him when he takes you from me." 

" Why, you silliest Euth ! who was talking of partings, or 
husbands, or any such dismalities ? Do you suppose I am so 
wonderful a creature that a man cannot see me without wanting 
to marry me?" 

" If he saw you with my eyes, dear, it would be difficult for 
him to pass you by." 

40 llostagss to Fortune 


" O Love ! thy province were not large, 
A bounded field, nor st etching far, 
Look also, Love, a brooding star, 

A rosy warmth from marge to marge." 

j'ichaed Dewrance, the cwrate, is a kindly soul, never happier 
1han when he is giving pleasure to others, whether the objects of 
his benevolence be a troop of small school-children more given 
to dispense with the use of pocket-handkerchiefs than society 
approves, or a band of bright-looking girls, who revere him as a 
modern edition of St. Paul. Three days after the visit to Loch- 
withian Priory he is busy organising a picnic — nothing formal or 
costly ; no champagne or perigord-pie ; no hired musicians or 
blue-jacketed postillions, or useless profusion of comestibles ; 
but a gipsy tea-drinking at the Shaky Bridge ; for Mr. Dewrance, 
belonging in some slight degree to the tame-cat family, is a pro- 
digious tea-drinker, and all his ideas of personal enjoyment 
include the consumption of carefully -blended pekoe and congou. 

The Cambria is a great place for the clerical fraternity. The 
drawing-room of the Lords is a church congress in little ; every- 
body talks church — stories about So-and-so who has just been 
made a bishop, What's-his-name whom we all remember so well 
at Jesus College, the restoration of Penryderch Abbey, the dila- 
pitude of Penmaenmawr Cathedral, schools, Easter offerings, 
church commissioners, choirs, harmoniums, organs, altar-cloths, 
rubric, chants, harvest festivals, are the prevailing topics. 
Happily these black-coated gentry are usually provided with 
daughters pleasant or pretty — nay, for the most part pretty ; for 
though the Welsh commonalty are not altogether lovely, gentle 
blood shows fresh and fair among these breezy hills. 

The young ladies are all on the alert for p>ienics, walks, drives, 
fern-hunts — what you will. 

"We must see the Shaky Bridge," says Mr. Dewrance at 
luncheon, seated luxuriously before a salad of his own com- 
pounding, with two pretty girls on each side of him — the off- 
siders craning their young necks to see and hear him. " Deli- 
cious walk across the hills — much better than driving round by 
the road. I suppose you young ladies can all manage a matter 
of six miles or so, there and back? " 

Can they ? They laugh at such a nuestion. 

Hostages to Fortune. 41 

" Well, then, I propose a gipsy tea. We can send everything 
on ahead, and boil our own kettle." 

" Which is all the fun of the fair ; especially if the wind is 
the wrong way, the wood damp, and the kettle obstinately averse 
from boiling," says Westray, who has his own band of admirer* 
on the other side of the table. It has leaked out somehow, much 
to his dissatisfaction, that he is the Mr. Westray who writes 

" A gipsy tea — delicious ! " cry the young ladies. 

"Then that's decided. Say the day after tomorrow. The 
weather seems settled." 

" G'ass going up," remarks a practical parson. 

"You might ask Miss Morcombe to join us," suggests I.'cr- 
man casually. 

" That sweet young lady who gave the prize at the Eisteddfod ? 
0, do ask her, Mr. Dewranco ! She looks so nice," exclaims Miss 
Milner, the daughter of a fine-looking jovial Welsh parson, per- 
petual curate of a distant parish, a man brimming over with 
quiet humouE — a man whose talk, whether lay or ecclesiastic, is 
always worth hearing. 

" She is nice," answers Herman; "and this Shaky Bridge is 
half way between here and Loehwithian. The Squire and his 
daughter could easily meet us there." 

" Do you suppose the Squire would forego his seven o'clock 
dinner for the sake of your gipsy tea ? " says Dewrance. '■ No ; 
I have a better plan for getting Miss Morcombe. I'll ask 
Petherick and his nieces, two charming little girls who keep his 
house, and ask Miss Morcombe to come with them. She's fond 
of Petherick, and is sure to come if he asks her." 

Astutest oi men ! " cries Herman, more pleased than the 
occasion warrants. 

He will see her again — Maud of the rose-garden, with her 
clear-cut face, not proud but sweet. Yjt he can fancy that noble 
face could harden into pride, grow fixed as marble, were the noble 
mind outraged, the strong sense cf right assailed, the grand con- 
tempt for meanness once aroused. He has seen so little of her, 
yet the knowledge of her character seems to have crept into his 
inmost heart, to be rooted there, as if he had known her all his 
life. Or is it only guesswork at best ? 

Dewrance completes the arrangements for his picnic that after- 
noon. He has acquired many accomplishments in his varied 
career, and is above all things excellent in the commissariat 
department. He telegraphs to Shrewsbury for the choicest fruit 
— the strawberries, gooseberries, and currants purveyed in 
Llandrysak being at once desultory and squashy — and for a 

42 Hostages to Fortune. 

liberal supply of those dainty cakes for which the ancient city 
is famous. He orders cream and butter from a farmhouse 
among the hills, and a box of crispest rolls and toothsome 
varieties of fancy-bread from a Polish baker in Eegent-street. 
He is not a man to content himself with the limited resources of 

The day comes — a blazer, cloudless blue, not a breath stirring 
the pine-branches ; every jingle of the tumblers in the pump- 
room, every click of tbe billiard-balls in the open-windowed 
chamber above, painfully audible in the sultry stillness. A 
glorious day for Flora and Ponto and Scrub, the dogs of the 
establishment, who lie flat on their sides on the sunny gravel. 
and growl faintly at the passing stranger — languid remonstrance 
which, taken in conjunction with the weather, seems indicative 
of hydrophobic tendencies. 

Herman roams restlessly all the morning — in and out, up and 
down — like a perturbed spirit ; now in the dusky pine-grove ; 
now on the broiling croquet-lawn ; now in the empty billiard- 
room, making unmeaning canons with misused energy. Anon 
he goes down to the green hollow behind the Cambria, a bosky 
dell in whose bottom lies a shining lake of clear blue water, rush- 
bordered, full of deeps and shallows, whereon the more juvenile- 
minded of the Cambrians do sometimes disport themselves in a 
shallop, or perchance wherry, with a striped-canvas awning. He 
stands upon the reedy margin and throws stones into the water, 
and muses with despondent air, doubtless full of fancies for his 
next novel, weaving his plot, arranging his dramatic personages 
— or possibly thinking of that comedy for Mrs. Brandreth's 
theatre which he began so briskly the other day, but wherewith 
he has made but little progress since the Eisteddfod. 

" How my mother would have admired that girl ! " he says to 
himself, those fickle fancies of his shifting from the phantasmal 
world of polite comedy to real life and Editha Morcombe. " She 
is just the kind of girl for good women to admire, and for erring 
men to reverence and — avoid ; just too good to make a pleasant 
easy-going wife. How few men of letters have ever mated witli 
your superior woman ! Perhaps Shelley is the only instance — 
and he found his happiness by a fluke. I daresay Eousseau and 
Goethe knew best when they reduced their aspirations to the 
level of their kitchens." 

He throws another stone into the lake, smooth as the placidest 
millpond this summer noon, and then strolls back to the fore- 
court of the Cambria, where Dewranee — his arrangements com- 
plete, his soul at ease — reclines on his favourite bench, lazily 
consuming a cigar 

Hostages to Fortune. 43 

" What ails thee, sultry wanderer ? " he asks languidly, " Thy 
countenance is disturbed." 

"It's consumedly hot," replies Herman peevishly. "Among 
your various messages you ought to have telegraphed to the 
clcik of the weather for a light breeze. You expect us to 
walk across a broiling hill-side under a flaming sun, and call 
that pleasure. Any reply from Miss Morcombe or Mr. Pethe- 
rick ? " 

" No, they have not troubled to write. They'll be there, I 
daresay ; and if they're not — well, you'll be all the happier with- 
out a serious young woman. Those Misses Pynscnts from 
Swansea are rather frisky than otherwise, and no end of money. 
Iron, you know." 

" Iron be — Bessemered ! " exclaimed Herman ferociously. " I 
think when people receive an invitation the least thing they can 
do is to reply to it. At least, that is the prevailing opinion in the 
civilised parts of Europe. In Wales, I daresay — ■" 

" 0, the Welsh do answer letters," replies Dewrance. " It's 
their postal arrangements that are to blame in this case, no doubt. 
Miss Morcombe has written, and her letter has gone to Shrews- 
bury, or London, or Milford Haven, or Holyhead, en route for 
Llandrysak. I shall get it the day after to-morrow, if trains are 

Herman sighs impatiently, lights a cigar — his third since 
breakfast — and turns upon his heel. 

He goes into the house. A piano rattles violently in the 
drawing-room, where a young lady is hammering out Thalberg's 
'' Last Rose of Summer." There are voices and laughter and 
banging of doors on the ground floor. Herman looks neither to 
the right nor the left, but goes up to his own room, a large airy 
chamber at the back of the house, overlooking the lake and the 
wooded slopes that rise from it, and. the green sheep-walks above, 
and the little ancient parish church yonder in a cleft of the hills, 
haid by a farmyard, and little better than a barn — the humblest 
tabernacle surely that was ever dedicated to divinity. 

Herman Westray's despatch-box stands open on the table by 
the window — a despatch-box whose perfect appliances and 
elegant luxury might tempt the most slothful of scribes. Mr. 
Westray seats himself before this machine, plays with an ivory 
paper-cutter, screws and unscrews a pencil-case, looks at his 
watch, ticking soberly in a morocco watch-stand in the lid of the 
despatch-box, looks at the day of the month indicated on an 
ivory tablet, and lastly, from one of the pockets intended 
for envelopes of official size, draws a photograph in a velvet frame. 
A woman's photograph naturally, or that thoughtful look — half 

44 Hostages to Fortune. 

tenderness, half perplexity — would hardly cloud his face as he 
contemplates it. A woman's face, delicately painted as a minia- 
ture on ivory — not a common face, yet not absolutely beautiful ; 
features small and finely cut, eyes darkest hazel, hair auburn — 
the real auburn, the rich red-brown of a newly-fallen chestnut 
from which the husk has just parted. And such hair ! It falls 
over the slender figure like a mantle — falls almost to the knees. 
The woman is dressed in some loose semiclassic robe, girdled at 
the waist, high to the throat, but sleeveless, leaving the small 
round arm bare to the shoulder, the tapering hand displayed to 
perfection. The photographer must have been an artist who 
posed the lady for this portrait. 

Herman replaces the photograph with a sigh. 

"I ought to write my best for her," he says to himself; and 
turns over some loose sheets of Bath-post closely written upon, 
and erases a word or a line here and there, or writes a word or 
line in the margin. 

" ' Enter Sir Bergamot Papillion — ' No, the comic muse is 
not propitious to-day. Smiling Thalia averts her face. After all 
1 am not quite clear that I shall write a piece of the Eochestcr 
and Sedley period ; something classical would suit Myra better, 
if I could get a happy idea." 

Herman Westray drops his pen, and looks dreamily out of the 
window. In a general way he goes at his work in a business- 
like manner — gives his Pegasus a free rein, and gets over the 
ground at a sharp trot, regular as clockwork. As a rule he in- 
vokes no assistance from the Muses, but dips his pen in the 
inkpot, and writes wittily, wisely, or stupidly, as the Fates decree 
— but he covers his paper. Time was — nay, not so long ago — 
when he wrote for bread. He thinks of those days now, as he 
looks out at the sleepy summer landscape, the warm golden 
light on wood and hill and water-pools — thinks of his past life 
and its varieties of fortune. How, ten years ago, he came home 
from Balliol to find the good old vicar his father on his deathbed ; 
and how, when the undertaker was paid and other creditors were 
satisfied, the slenderest pittance was left for the widow and her 
two daughters — for the son nothing but the work of his head or 
his hands. The little family at home had pinched and saved to 
give the lad a university education ; and Herman had known 
this, and had striven his hardest to be worthy of their loving 
sacrifice. He had taken honours and won a scholarship, and 
made his father's last days happy with the knowledge of his 
success. Tcthis son the father committed his helpless wife and 
girls. " You will have only Herman to look to, my dears. Under 
Providence, Herman will take care of you.'' 

HuuLiges to Fortune. 45 

Herman accepted the trust. No lack of earnestness in li is 
nature or straightforwardness in his aims in those days, what- 
ever there- may be now. Herman in poverty was almost sublime. 
He lived upon his scholarship, took men to read with him, utilised 
his vacations, and contrived somehow to add to his mother's 
narrow means. Motherand daughters lived placidly and happily 
in a pillbox of a house in a quiet Devonshire watering-place, 
respected, beloved, doing good in their small way. And here, so 
long as his mother lived, Herman spent the brief holiday-time of 
his busy life. 

When his scholarship expired he came to London, and, by the 
influence of an old friend of his father's, was placed on the staff 
of a famous daily paper. He had taught himself shorthand at 
Oxford, jiourse distraire, and was able to take his place in the 
reporters' gallery without delay. In course of time it was dis- 
covered that he had a fine slashing style, and from reporting ho 
took to leader-writing, at which patent manufacture of bricks 
without straw he worked for the next five years of his life; 
sometimes varying his denunciations of the Opposition, his 
graphic pictures of startling trial or social tragedy, his humorous 
essays on breach-of-promise cases, his Juvenalian diatribes 
against the vices of modern society, with a sound and exhaus- 
tive review of some important book. A useful man eminently 
on a daily paper ; well-read, reckless to audacity, brilliant, 
various. The time came, however, when journalism failed to 
satisfy Herman Westray's ambition or occupy his mind ; imagi- 
nation demanded a wider field. He gave his spare hours — time 
that should have been given to sleep for the most part— to the 
composition of a picture of modern society ; in other words, a 
novel. The book was published ; his fellow-workers of the daily 
press blew their trumpets loud and shrill, and Herman Westray 
was famous. There was just enough sparkle, originality, or 
eccentricity in the book to amuse men ; just enough colour and 
passion to interest women. The novel was therefore popular 
alike in club and boudoir; and Herman's success fully justilied 
his withdrawal from newspaper work, save for occasional critical 
articles, the authorship whereof gave him power among his 
brothers of the pen. His first novel had been followed by a 
successful comedy, his comedy by a second novel, pronounced an 
advance on the first. Since then he had written more plays and 
more novels, and had published a volume of lyrics which some 
among the critics pronounced not unworthy of Heine, while 
others denounced the writer as at once trivial, immoral, and 

He had made money also, and had exchanged a second floor 

46 Hostages to Fortune. 

in Esses-street, Strand, for chambers in Piccadilly ; not large, 
but costly. He had seen a good deal of the best society, and 
not a little of the worst. In a word, he had lived his life, 
without much thought of the future, with some forgetfulnesa 
of the past ; his mother being dead by this time, and his sisters 
lacking that influence for good which she had exercised to the 

And now he has come to Llandrysak for rest of body and 
mind — sorely needing both — expecting to find here a placid 
bovine existence, far from the region of fervid desires and ardent 
hopes. Yet already his mind is fluttered, his body restless ; that 
sweet empty life of the lotus-land remains for him no more. He 
ought to be lying yonder in some ripple of that ferny hill, look- 
ing up at the blue summer sky, listening idly to the hum of 
vagabond bee, the tinkle of distant sheep-bell. 

" Poor Myra," he sighs at last, " it's no use trying to work 
to-day. Sir Bergamot is dumb as the Sphinx. The new comedy 
must stand over till I feel more in the vein. Provoking rather, 
for I thought I should have dashed off my three acts in a week 
or so, and taken the piece back to London with me. I know 
Myra is anxious about her opening piece, and this Frivolity is a 
serious undertaking for that nervous little soul — or would be 
serious if there were not resources in the background." 

He sighs, puts away his papers, locks up his despatch-box, and 
goes down-stairs again, having made as httle use of his morning 
as it is possible for a man to make. In half an hour the 
luncheon-bell will ring, and luncheon to-day will, for the gipsy 
tea-party, mean dinner, for they contemplate walking home by 
moonlight, and it will be ten o'clock most Kk-ely ere the Cambria 
sees them safely housed. 

" After all, I came down here for a rest," reflects Herman, " and 
I don't see why I should worry myself into a fever about Myra's 

He saunters to the pine-grove, where the water-drinkers— 
looking always more or less like the inmates of a private lunatic 
asylum — are seated here and there on rustic benches in a low- 
spirited manner, doing nothing, looking at nothing, to all appear- 
ances thinking of nothing. 

Not so Herman. He lights a cigar, and gives himself up to 
severe thought. He muses on his present condition of life, and 
wonders if it is altogether the best and happiest existence he 
could make for himself. It is a pleasant thing to know that 
when he puts on his hat he covers all his responsibilities ; that 
measles may decimate the infant population, and he be none the 
worse ; that the advance in the prices of coals and butcher's meat 

Hostages to Fortune. 47 

can affect him but lightly. Yet it is not altogether soothing to 
consider that, were ho to die to-morrow, there is no one — savo 
those dear girls in Devonshire, on whom he bestows a passing 
thought once in six weeks or so — who would particularly regret 
his departure. Yes, perhaps one other person would be genuinely 
sorry, for a little while ; but every thought connected with that 
other person is more or less a pain, and he shrinks from the ques- 
tion of her feelings. 

People are always telling him that he ought to marry ; that it 
would be better for himself, better for his career, that he should 
be more heavily weighted in the race of life. Existence is too 
easy for him, these wise ones say. He is in danger of becoming 
selfish, cynical, if he has not already acquired the vices of 
egotism and cynicism. He is in danger of hardening into the 
bachelor Sybarite who thinks his club is " going to the deuce, 
you know," if his favourite table is preengaged or his cutlet over- 

Luncheon is over, and at three o'clock the gipsy party have 
begun their march, with Dewrance as pilot. He knows every 
meadow and hill and wooded gorge and watercourse for twenty 
miles round Llandrysak, though he has only inhabited that 
inland watering-place for a couple of months. His friends have 
mustered strong — the ladies in an alarming majority — but Dew- 
rance himself is equal to six ordinary bachelors, and Westray, as 
a popular author, counts double. Mr. Elilner, perpetual curate of 
an unpronounceable parish in the north, has a knot of admiring 
listeners to his really delightful conversation. The way by 
which they go is delicious, through narrow paths, between deep 
stony banks clothed with ferns and foxgloves, mosses and 
lichens, pine-trees rising tall on the rough slopes above ; then 
past a group of mighty beeches on a grassy knoll, across a farm- 
yard and a wide stretch of undulating meadow land, where the 
cattle stand at gaze as the merry pedestrians go by. The gates 
are tall and stiff, regular five-barred gates, and rigidly padlocked 
against the straying of cattle ; and these Mr. Dewrance and his 
party have to climb— toil provocative of much mirth. From the 
last of the meadows they come into perhaps the prettiest bit of 
all that varied walk : a narrow path on the top of the steep bank 
of a torrent, deeply cloven in the hill ; a shallow stream rushes 
over the rocky bed of this wooded gorge, and one just sees the 
shine of water through the interlacing branches of oak and ash, 
sapling and undergrowth. 

This walk by the torrent winds up the shoulder of the hill. 

" Don't look round, one of you, till you come to the top," cries 
Dewrance ; whereupon everybody turns instantaneously, and 

48 Hostages to Fortune. 

there is a simultaneous gusli of admiration. Behind them, 
around them everywhere in the sunny distance, rise the hills, 
green and brown, darkly wooded, bright with verdure, bleak and 
barren, craggy and bold, steeped in the summer light, painted 
against the deep blue sky. 

" How lovely ! " 

" Scene-painter ! " roars Westray, in the voice of the gallery 
demanding Mr. Telbin. 

" You ought to have waited till you got to the brow of the 
hill," says Dewrance, vexed that a coup de theatre should be lost. 

They pause again at the gate which crests the hill, and look 
back again. Tire panorama is a little wider ; they see deeper 
into the smiling valley, where the river Pennant winds like a 
wandering thread of silver. They look at the white homesteads 
scattered far apart among the hills, and think how sinless and 
placid life might be in such fair solitudes ; and every one of 
them is for the moment as ardent a worshipper of Nature as 
Wordsworth himself. 

The air blows fresh on these green heights, and has a flavour 
of the salt sea. This wide grassy hill which they are to cross is 
called Cymbrie's Bank, the word "bank" sufficing for the loftiest 
hill in these regions. 

Dewrance wafts gaily on with his circle of fair young votaries. 
He is telling them stories of his foreign experience — stories 
romantic, tragical, absorbing, to which the listeners lend atten- 
tive ears, the Curate excelling in the art of narration. Over that 
wide green hill, and then along the breast of another hill, and 
anon they see a sharp peak before them, crowned with a mound 
or earthen breastwork — all that remains of a Eoman fortress, 
according to Welsh tradition and Bichard Dewrance. 

They go down the green slope, and into a stony-hearted lane ; 
a lane that should be green and grassy, but which some rural 
proprietor, for his own pleasure, has paved with rough boulders ; 
a lano which to young ladies with three-inch heels to their 
boots must be a place of torture. Our Welsh maidens trip 
across the rugged stones easily enough, and the stony-hearted 
lane is pleasantly shaded by tall hedges of hazel and sloe, black- 
berry, dog-rose, oak sapling, and crab-apple, and all sweet things 
that flourish by the wayside. After the lane there is a brook to 
cross' and then a little thicket, a gap in a hedge to get through 
— and they are at the Shaky Bridge. 

He is not a mighty beast, this Welsh lion ; not by any means 
a marvel of engineering as applied to bridges. He consists of a 
couple of ancient planks, considerably the worse for wear, slung 
across the narrow river by means of loose wires, which rattle 

Hostages to Fortune. 4D 

wofuily at every step of the passenger. But mild as the beast 
is, he has wrought terror in many a gentle breast, and Mr. Dew- 
rance's young ladies scream and exclaim not a little as they trip 
lightly across this primitive suspcnsien-bridge. ButMf not the 
bridge itself, assuredly the landscape in which it is set deserves 
the fame it has won : that placid valley ; that winding river, with 
its ferny banks and over-shadowing trees ; that simple village 
church on the higher ground yonder, with its lop-sided wooden 
tower, its ivied wall, ivy among which roses red and white have 
entwined themselves lovingly. The long narrow valley is shut 
in by hills — loftier crests rising in the middle distance above the 
fortress-crowned peak which stands boldly out in the foreground. 

"Well, Westrav, do you think the Shaky Bridge is worth a 
three-mile walk 'i " inquires Dewrance of his friend. 

Herman has not taken pains to make himself agreeable during 
the pilgrimage, but has been disposed to bang behind in self- 
communion, to the aggravation of some of the young ladies, who 
compare him unfavourably with the Curate, and decide that he puts 
all his cleverness into his books. 

" Yes," replies Herman, looking listlessly round, " the scenery 
is pretty enough ; rather teaboardy ; but it isn't Nature's fault 
that landscape painters have vulgarised her : nice little tumble- 
down old church — ' near yonder copse where once a garden 
smiled ' — and that kind of thing." 

He is angry with Miss Morcombe for not being here ; still 
more angry with himself for feeling the whole thine; a failure 
without her. There are no signs of her or of the Pethericks. 
The young man with the light cart, which has brought the comes- 
tibles, is the only human object in the landscape. 

"Now, ladies and gentlemen," cries Mr. Dewrance blithely, 
" the first part of the entertainment will be ' five, six, picking tip 
sticks,' as the nursery rhyme says. We want no entl of firewood 
for our kettle." 

Away speed the damsels gaily, the younger among the gentle- 
men active in their assistance. Dewrance takes Mr. Milner to 
look at the church. 

" Come with us, Westray, won't you ? " he roars, looking back ; 
and Herman follows listlessly, thinking of that comedy for Mrs. 
Brandreth's theatre, and how he is to find a telling situation for 
the end of the second act. 

The church-door is open,, and seated in the porch, discoursing 
with as ancient and toothless female, they discover the Reverend 
David Petherick, incumbent of Lochwithian, Topsy the bull- 
terrier curled up at his feet. Herman brightens, and for tke 
moment forgets his inchoate comedy. 

50 Hostages to Fortune. 

He shakes hands with the Keverend David, he caresses Topsy, 
he peers into the dusky little church. Yes, she is there alone, 
standing in a thoughtful attitude, looking up at one of the homely 

"My nieces are over the hills and far away," says Mr. 
Petherick, "but Editha is in there." 

Herman goes in, leaving the three Churchmen in the porch. 
He is close beside her before she is aware of his coming, and 
then she turns and looks. 

" ' And suddenly, sweetly, strangely blush'd,' " says Herman 
inwardly, quoting her favourite poet. 

Yes, she blushes at sight of him ; only the bright brief 
blush that bespeaks surprise, of course. 

" I did not know you were to be here," she says, as they shake 
hands. " In fact, I really thought you had gone back to London." 

He had talked of a speedy departure the other day at Loch- 

" No, I get fonder of your country as I know it better." 

They go round the little church together, looking at the 
tablets, slate or marble, setting forth the virtues of departed 
Joneses, Lloyds, Williamses, Morgans, and Davises, and talking 
a little in subdued tones, as befits the sacred building. Such a 
quaint, old-world little church, with high wooden pews, square, 
spacious, but as uncomfortable as the carpenter's art could make 
them; the benches mere shelves; small latticed windows, 
squeezed here and there into the walls, with a view to con- 
venience rather than architectural effect, dimly illumine the 
white-washed interior. The only attempt at uniformity has been 
in the three narrow windows over the communion table, and one 
of these has been walled up by a ponderous monument to some 
departed Prices, who have been a power in the land. 

There is not much to look at, but the little there is seems emi- 
nently interesting to Herman. He lingers before every tablet ; 
he leans with folded arms upon one of the pew-doors while he. 
questions Editha about her life. He is making a study of her for 
1 lis next novel ; his interest in her is purely assthetic — on that point 
he has no doubt. 

" You have never found life at Lochwithian monotonous ; never 
sighed for any wider world ? " he asks. 

" Never. I do not say that I have not sometimes wished to 
travel. I suppose that is a natural wish with eveiy one — to see 
all that is strange and lovely in this wonderful world." 

Herman sighs. For his own part he seems to have turned the 
world inside out, like an old glove, and left nothing to be desired 
in it. 

Hostages to Fortune. 51 

" But the thought that Kuth could not go with mo, and tho 
thought of how much I should leave behind inc in our dear old 
home," she resumes, " has always checked the wish for change or 

"Yet you do not mean to spend all your days at Lochwithian ? 
You might as well be a nun at once." 

"There is nothing appalling to my mind in the idea of a con- 
vent," answers Editha, smiling; "it there were any vow that I 
could make to bind me to Euth, I would willingly make it — her 
happiness is so dependent upon me— poor darling." 

" Would it not be wise to begin at once to train somebody to 
take your place, your ultimate departure being inevitable ? Some 
lucky fellow — an earnest young Churchman, for instance, like 
Dewrance — will persuade you to exchange your sphere of action 
for a rather wider one. You will be the ideal pastor's wife." 

" Thanks for the compliment," answers Editha lightly. " I 
am too happy at home to be in any hurry for the coming of the 
ideal pastor." 

" He will come some day, be sure." 

Poor Dewrance looks in at the door at this moment, showing 
those even white teeth of his under a somewhat unclerical mous- 

" Miss Morcombe — Westray, we are here to enjoy the scenery ; 
don't waste your time looking at those uninteresting tablets." 

" I have found them full of interest," says Herman. 

The)' come out of the church at the Curate's bidding, and 
saunter round the churchyard, which is a curiously one-sided 
necropolis, the Welsh insisting upon being bu:ied with their faces 
to the east, so that they may be ready at the great trumpet-call. 
The humble graves are neatly kept ; some curiously paved with 
pebbles, some decorated with flowers, some with cut branches of 
box stuck close together, and others with box planted densely 
and cut into the shape of a coffin. This last design is evidently 
esteemed the most recherche thing in graves. 

They gaze and loiter, Editha explaining all that needs expla- 
nation in the rustic scene. They talk freely, as they talked the 
other day by the rushy margin of the river, and it seems some- 
how to both of them that they have been friends and compa- 
nions for a long time. 

Herman finds himself talking of his own feelings, his own 
history : sure sign that his companion is sympathetic, far he is 
nut given to egotistical prosings. He tells Editha of his youth, 
touching lightly upon his struggles, but owning without reserve 
that he has laboured for his bread. 

" And now, after pulling against the tide for a goodish time, 


Hostages to Fortune. 

I find myself at thirty in smooth water," he says ; "and I have 
nothing to do but drift quietly with the stream and keep on the 
sunny side of the river, or, in other words, make the most and best 
of my life." 

"But you will go on working?" exclaims Editha, with a 
surprised look ; " your ambition is not dead ? " 

His only answer for the moment is a sigh. 

" Progress is a grand word," he says at last, " but how few 
they are who have the elements of progress in their nature ! To 
go up like a rocket, and come down like a stick seems the natural 
tendency of human genius. Bulwer Lytton, the most varied 
genius since Shakespeare, is the only man I can think of at this 
moment whose power was always growing." 

" Was not that because he had an inexhaustible ambition, and a 
just and modest appreciation of his genius, and loved his art for 
its own sake, without consideration of fee or reward ? For my 
own part, when peeple say they are not ambitious, I always fancy 
they mean that they are idle." 

'■Perhaps you are right," replies Herman. "A man may go 
on working, and work hard, in a groove, and seem a pattern of 
industry, without any great mental effort. The strain only comes 
when he strives to rise above complacent mediocrity." 

And then after a pause he says thoughtfully : 

" I had more ambition before my mother died. Any little 
success I made was such a delight to her. Every word of praise 
given to me was to her a pearl of price. Perhaps if I had some 
one as keenly interested in my future, I should work harder, 
have nobler aspirations, be less content with the bread-and- 
cheese of literature." 

" You have sisters ; they must be warmly interested in you." 

'• A sister's interest is like a draught of new milk to a thirsty 
traveller — refreshing, but not inspiring." 

" I would rather have Ruth's praise or Ruth's interest than any 
one else's," says Editha. 

" Yes, women as a rule like milk-and-water, but even the 
soberest men prefer a dash of aleohol in their drink." 

They stroll down the valley to the little sheltered nook near 
the bridge, where the gipsy-fire is blazing merrily, and is the 
cause of much merriment in others. Tea is ready, but tea-cups 
are scarce, and every one cannot be supplied at once. There is 
the river conveniently close, however, and plenty of teacloths in 
the basket ; so the washing of cups and saucers in the running 
streams affords a diverting employment to some of the young 
ladies and one very young gentleman. Conspicuous among 
these skirmishers are Mr. Petherick's nieces, who have little to 

Hostages to Fortune. 53 

recommend them to notice beyond the length of their legs and 
the shortness of their petticoats, being in that stage of rapid 
and inconvenient growth when frocks seem to shrink palpably 
day by day. Shrewsbury cakes, Polish bread, strawberries, big 
crimson cherries, are fully appreciated by the revellers after 
that three-mile walk. Dewrance, in his character of host at this 
open-air banquet, is simply admirable. The ladies consume 
orange pekoe in an alarming manner, like the young woman 
made famous by Sam Yveller. The kettle is an inexhaustible 
source of excitement, and romantic young ladies feel that this 
is gipsy life indeed. After tea, the younger and more frivolous 
of the party go and swing upon the Shaky Bridge, to the appa- 
rent endangcrment of that frail fabric ; others wander away in 
twos and threes, or muster strong round Dewrance. 

" Now, remember," he says, as they prepare to scatter them- 
selves, "we all meet here at half -past eight. We shall have 
moonlight for our walk home." 

" Delicious ! " gasp the young ladies ; " you plan everything 
so nicely, Mr. Dewrance ! " — as if he had telegraphed to some 
London firm for the moon. 

Herman and Editha climb the hill in the foreground. He has 
asked her to show him the .Roman earthwork. The sunburnt 
sward is slippery as glass, save where the bracken gives firmer 
foothold. Herman grasps Editha's hand now and then in perilous 
places ; not that she has much need of his assistance, for her 
foot is fleet and firm as Atalanta's. They reach the summit 
breathless, but not weary, and have the little mound with its 
scooped-out basin all to themselves. From this height they survey 
the rest of the picnickers, straying here and there ; the group of 
admiring females round Dewrance ; the two pastors, Milner and 
Petherick, pacing soberly by the river. 

" Nice to feel oneself quite away from the rest of the world ! " 
exclaims Herman. 

He examines the earthwork, which to the wisest of archaeo- 
logists says very little — and Herman is no archaeologist. His 
mind is too purely literary, too imaginative and poetical in its 
bent, to affect the dry bones of history. Upon his eye all that 
is fair in the past shines beautiful and glorious like a picture ; he 
has no taste for looking on the other side of the canvas, or for 
anatomising the bright and living image that charms his fancy. 

They seat themselves upon the low bank, and watch the sun- 
set almost in silence. Gorgeously, in billows of crimson and 
purple, sinks the golden round ; fiery and splendid, like the brazen 
targe of a victor in the fight. Who should find many words in 
the presence of that awful splendour ? 


54 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Do you remember what Mirabeau said of the sun on his 
deathbed ? " asks Herman, as the gleaming edge of the disk dips 
and vanishes in a sea of molten gold. ' If he is not God, he is 
His cousin-german.' " 

Far away stretches the undulating landscape, gilded by that 
western glory. A beautiful world verily ; and yet there are so 
many who prefer the shady side of Pall-mall ! 

" Odd, isn't it," says Herman, reflecting upon this fact, " that 
men can turn their backs upon Nature without a sigh, to shut 
themselves in houses like packing-cases, and tramp stony pave- 
ments, and breathe sewer-gas — and like it ? What gregarious 
animals we must be. that a crowd is so attractive to us ! A 
curious indication of how small a world we possess in ourselves 
individually .Such men as Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge 
could afford to inhabit solitudes ; their crowd was within — their 
minds were peopled with thoughts and fancies and vivid dreams 
that were better company than men and women." 

" You speak as if you did not care for the country.'' 

" I care for it intensely — as a picture ; but I doubt my capacity 
for being happy out of a great city. The press and conflict of 
life are a necessity of my being. I admire your fine old Priory 
and its gardens — full of such a tender smiling peace ; I wonder 
at your tranquil even days, as at a fable of some enchanted isle 
— like Prospero's without Caliban." 

They talk of many things. All too soon it is eight o'clock — a 
quarter past — twenty minutes past — and they must go down to 
the valley where Dewrance is to assemble his forces. 

Mr. Petherick has driven Miss Morcombe and his nieces in Lis 
pony-carriage — a commodious rather than elegant vehicle, which 
carries any number, and would move a houseful of furniture at 
a push. He is to drive them back through the moonlit lanes, 
while Mr. Dewrance's party wander over the grassy hill and by 
the mysterious path above the mountain gorge — where the fairies 
might hold high festivals on such nights as these, if earth had 
not grown too old for them. 

The Incumbent of Lochwithian has enjoyed himself amazingly, 
and in the fulness of his heart is bent upon making some return 
of hospitality to the Curate, and the Curate's clerical friend, Mr. 

" Come and lunch with me to-morrow," he says expansively. 
" We won't call it dinner, for that means ceremony, and mine is 
only a bachelor's box. You'll come with them, Mr. Westray, I 
hope ? " 

" I had serious thoughts of going back to London to-morrow," 
replies Herman ; " but I can't resist such a tempting invitation." 

Hostages to Fortune. 55 

ITe has a vague idea that in lunching with Mr. Petherick he 
will have some chance of seeing Editha once more, before he 
goes back to that world of action and strife which knows her 

lie has the privilege of handing her into the pony-carriage, 
adjusting her wraps — for her dress is thin and tne night-dews 
falling. They shake hands, and the pony trots away with his 
load at a complacent jig-jog pace ; and Herman feels that the 
night and the landscape have lost a charm. 

He is more thoughtful than ever throughout the homeward 
walk. The scene is mysteriously lovely in the moonlight — con- 
ducive to waking dreams. 

" I think I ought to pack my portmanteau," he says to him- 
self, as they enter the avenue of the Cambria — black as Erebus, 
save for a shaft of moonshine darting through the pine-tops here 
and there. " I feel curiously like falling in love. But then I've 
taken the disease so often, and found myself so little the worse 
for it when it was over." 

He does not pack his portmanteau to-night. 


" Weni zwei von einander scheiden, 
So geben sie sich die Hand', 
Und fangen an zu weinen, 
Und seufzen ohne End'. 

Wir haben niiht geweinet, 

"Wir seufzten nicht ' Weh !' und ' Acn !' 

Die Tiiranen und die Seufzer, 
Die karnen hintennach." 

Mr. Pethemck's bachelor box — a temporary abode which he 
occupies pending the erection of a vicarage on the prettiest bit 
of his thirty acres of glebe — is as cosy a habitation as one would 
desire to find in a day's journey. It is about half a mile from 
the village of Lochwithian, sheltered on every side by towering 
peak or broad green slope with wooded fringe. Rather incon- 
venient internally, perhaps, looked at from the utilitarian point 

56 Hostages to Fortune. 

of view, as the bedrooms have evidently been a subject of minor 
importance in the builder's plan, and the staircase an uncon- 
sidered trifle. There are two snug sitting-rooms, however, a neat 
little doll's-house kitchen, bow-windows opening upon a velvet 
lawn, and a shrubbery of choicest conifers, on which a previous 
incumbent has spent his substance and his care. 

Mr. Petherick's idea of a rough-and-ready luncheon is by no 
means discouraging. A big bowl of roses beautifies the centre 
of the table. Snowy damask, quaint old Swansea china, heavy 
diamond cut-glass, a f orequarter of lamb, a ham, a pair of fowls, 
a silvery slab of salmon -garnished with cucumber, a salad, and a 
few kickshaws of confectionery, form no uninviting picture. 
Herefordshire cider, sherry, and claret are the accompaniments of 
the meal. 

The gentlemen have walked over from Llandrysak, and bring 
appetites sharpened by the clear mountain air. There is much 
conversation, chiefly of matters ecclesiastical or university 
reminiscences, to which Herman listens, or in which he joins with 
a mild interest. His attention is keener presently, when his host 
begins to talk of Editha. 

" Yes, she is a lovely girl," says Mr. Petherick, in reply to an 
observation of Mr. Milner's ; " lovely in the best sense of the 
word. I have watched her growth as one watches some beautiful 
flower. I never knew any one in whom thoughtfulness for 
others was so spontaneous a quality. If I could only see her 
married to the man of my choice I should be happy, for then I 
should know Lochwithian would not lose her." 

" The man of your choice is a local power, I conclude ? " 
remarks Herman frigidly, as if this observation of the Vicar's 
were in some measure an affront. 

" Yes ; Vivian Hetheridge has one of the finest estates in the 
county, and is a generous-hearted, right-minded young fellow 
into the bargain." 

" Young, a landowner, right-minded, and no doubt good-look- 
ing," says Herman ; " strange that a lady should be indifferent 
to so much excellence ! At the West-end of London, now, Mr. 
Hetheridge would be — like popular securities on the Stock 
Exchange — inquired for." 

Mr. Petherick does not pursue the subject ; but that image of 
a wealthy and agreeable suitor dwells curiously in Herman's 
mind. He is speculating upon Mr. Hetheridge's virtues and Mr. 
Hetheridge's chances as the gentlemen stroll round the Vicar's 
garden, and admire the Vicar's poultry, which have free warren 
under the ornamental timber on the lawn. 

Mr. Milner asks to see Lochwithian Church, whereat Herman 

Hostages to Fortune. 57 

brig-buns visibly. The church is so near the Priory, and there i3 
just the possibility of their meeting Miss Morcombe. 

'' Yes, you really should see the church," he exclaims ; "it is a 

Mr. Petherick opens the garden gate ; they cross a meadow 
and find themselves at the foot of the great green hill which 
shelters that placid vale, where the monks of old made their 

Much as he admires the church, Mr. W astray does not care 
about seeing it again. He stays outside with Dewrance — stays 
in sight of the Priory windows, which look down upon them from 
above the shrubberied bank. 

" I shall go back to London to-morrow," says Herman. 

" You have been threatening me with that calamity for the last 
ten days. Do you mean to-morrow in a rigid actual sense, or 
the Shakespearian to-morrow, which ' creeps on with petty pace 
from day to day,' and is never overtaken by man ? " 

" No, I really must go back. I don't get on with my work in 
these peaceful solitudes. Odd, isn't it? I miss my own 
particular chair, my books of reference." 

'' I understand. You can't write a comedy without Scribe 
and Benedix at your elbow." 

" My comedy has not progressed. However, I have gained 
what I wanted — health ; and I have reason to be grateful to 
Llandrysak. Do you know this Mr. Hetheridge whom the Vicar 
talks of?" 

"Yes, I have met him. A very good fellow." 

" And attached to Miss Morcombe ? " 

" Positively adores her ; carries the evidence of hie hopeless 
condition upon him, visible to the naked eye." 

"And will end by winning her, no doubt. The eternal fitness 
of things is in his favour." 

The Curate shakes his head sagely. 

" Editha Morcombe is not a girl to be governed by worldly 
considerations," he says. 

" But her education, her surroundings, her own bent of mind — 
all fit her to be a country-gentleman's wife. No other union 
could be so in harmony with her character. She would never 
make a woman of fashion or a woman of the world ; nor is 
she adapted to mate with a struggler who has to force his way 
in life. A rural parish is her natural sphere." 

" Assuredly," answers Dewrance. " Your critieal mind has 
arrived at a just estimate of her disposition." 

Horses' hoofs sound near them, gently walking down the hill. 
Herman and the Curate look up from their station by the church- 

58 Hostages to Fortune. 

yard-gate, and survey the equestrians — a lady on a chestnut 
horse, riding between a middle-aged gentleman on a deep- 
chested, weight-carrying brown cob, and 'a gentleman on a 
showy bay. 

The middle-aged gentleman is Squire Morcombe, and the lady 
isEditha. The gentleman on the bay is young, fresh-coloured, 
good-looking, clad in gray homespun, and stoutly booted. He 
carries a hunting-crop, and has the air of being more at home on 
horseback than elsewhere. 

"That's young Hetheridge," says Mr. Dewrance. 

"A sweetly commonplace young man, with that vacuous 
expression which friendly souls call an open countenance," 
replies Herman critically. 

Editha and her father see the gentlemen at the gate, and ride 
up to them. There is shaking of hands and friendly greeting. 

" Come in and have tea," says the Squire in his hearty way. 
" Dewrance, you've met Hetheridge. Mr. Westray, Mr. Hether- 
idge." And then, bringing himself alongside the bay, "You 
must have heard of Westray — literary man— writes books, you 
know, and what not. Very nice fellow." 

Vivian Hetheridge has saluted the stranger stiffly. He is 
in that stage of fatuity in which a man sees a rival and an 
enemy in every other man ; and he has heard Editha talk of this 
Westray with a too evident interest. 

They ride slowly up to the porch ; Herman walking at Editha's 
side, and taking no more notice of Mr. Hetheridge than if that 
landed esquire had been a groom. Dewrance stays behind to 
bring the two elder Churchmen. 

" We always have afternoon tea in my sister's room," says 
Editha, as she and Herman go into the hall. " You will not 
mind ? " 

" Mind ? I should like it of all things. I want to talk to your 
sister about her painting." 

Editha leads the way to that pretty sitting-room on the upper 
floor, Herman and Hetheridge following. The latter is quite at 
home, and is welcomed warmly by Euth, who greets Herman 
courteously, but not effusively. 

" I thought you had forgotten us all, Vivian," she says ; " it is 
so long since we have seen you." 

" I have been away for a fortnight. I'm so glad you missed 
me — a little." 

" You may call it very much, if you like." 

" And Editha " — with a glance at the young lady in the riding- 
habit, who has lingered for a minute or so to rearrange the 
flowers on the pretty oval tea-table before running away to 

Hostages to Fortune. 59 

change her dress — " she never misses any one. Too busy, I 

" I didn't know you were away," replies Editha naively. " I 
hope you enjoyed yourself." 

" yes. Tenby, to a man who goes there twice a year, is 
distractingly gay. I had the charge of my mother and sisters, 
and was there on duty." 

Editha runs off to dress, leaving Herman seated by Miss 
Morcombe's sofa. He begins to talk of that copy of Vandyke in 
the vestry, and of art in general, whereupon Iluth forgets her 
prejudices and vague apprehensions, and is at once interested. 
iSo few people who understand art ever come to Lochwithian 

'' You know some of the Academicians ? " she inquires wonder- 
ingly, upon Herman's familiar mention of a great name. 

"Yes, I know most of them." 

"It must be wonderful to live in the midst of such people," 
she says, with brightening eyes ; " to hear of famous pictures 
before they are painted ; to know all about great books before they 
are published ; to live in the front rank of intellectual progress 
instead of being quite outside the literary and artistic world as 
we are here." 

" Yes," says Herman, with his languid air, " I am inclined to 
agree with the Laureate about the relative values of life in the 
wilderness and life in the city. And yet we metropolitans are 
poor creatures compared with the children of the mountain and the 
flood. Look at your friend Mr. Hetheridge, for instance " — with 
a glance at Vivian, who stands by the farther window poking his 
finger listlessly between the bars of the little aviary. " What a 
magnificent animal ! Fresh clear eye, deep chest, straight legs — 
sound in wind and limb. Intellectual London does not produce 
that kind of thing." 

" Mr. Hetheridge's physical superiority is his smallest claim to 
your admiration," replies Kuth haughtily. Of all who have ever 
admired or wooed Editha, Vivian is Kuth's favourite. 

" No doubt. Men are like horses, and where form is faultless 
one hardly expects to find vice. And destiny has placed Mr. 
Hetheridge in a groove from which a man can hardly get askew. 
Life is no problem to a country squire. Its lines are laid down 
for him — to be a good son, a faithful husband, a judicious father, 
a kind master, a liberal landlord, a mild Conservative, with a dash 
of Liberalism to season his speeches at public dinners and Eistedd- 
fods ; to feed the hungry and clothe the naked — at Christmas 
time, and to entertain his own class hospitably all the year round ; 
to go to church on Sunday mornings, and ask the vicarage people 

60 Hostages to Fortune. 

to all his dinner parties. What more can Heaven or man demand 
from the lord of the soil ? " 

Editha reappears, fresh and blooming, in her simple dinner-dress 
of gray silk, with ruffles of old Brussels lace at the throat and 
wrists. The two parsons follow a minute later, and their party 
being now complete — for the Squire despises feminine tea-fights 
— they all sit down, a merry circle enough — Mr. Hetheridge 
having brightened wonderfully at Editha's return. 

He sits next her, and helps in the management of the old- 
fashioned silver kettle, and attends to the spirit-lamp. Ho 
carries Euth's teacup to the little table by the sofa, and makes 
himself generally useful. The whole business of tire tea-table 
appears delightful to him, and he has an air of schoolboy happi- 
ness essentially irritating to Herman Westray. 

That gentleman manages to enjoy himself notwithstanding. 
He is gayer than Dewrance has ever seen him ; and he and Mr. 
Milner have the lion's share of the conversation, and afford 
amusement to the whole party. Squire Hetheridge sits silent 
when he has nothing to occupy him about teacups or kettle, and 
watches and listens, wondering-eyed, marvelling how any two 
men can have so much to say as these two, whoso words jostle 
each other, whose promptness of repartee seems, to his simple 
mind, equal to anything he has read or heard of world-renowned 

It is half -past six, when the simple meal is finished ; and 
Dewrance reminds his friend that the dogcart is waiting for them, 
at the parsonage. 

"And you really leave Llandrysak to-morrow?" Editha asks, 
as she and Herman shake hands, with ever so faint a tone of regret. 

" Eeally. I have been obliged to make it a positive engage- 
ment with myself — a point of honour as it were, like having a 
tooth extracted, or paying one's losses on the Derby — or I doubt 
if I could have nerved myself for the wrench." 

" You like the scenery so much ? " 

" I am absolutely astonished at my own capacity for admiring 
the beauties of Nature. I should not have supposed that hills 
and valleys could have so endeared themselves to me." 

" I am afraid you are not quite in earnest." 

" I am only too much in earnest." 

They are going down the wide old staircase side by side, the 
others preceding them, and her hand hangs so near him that he 
longs to clasp it in his own — he feels his fingers drawn towards 
hers, as if by magnetic attraction. 

" You read German?" he asks abruptly. 

"Yes," with an inflection indicative of surprise. 

Hostages to Fortune. Gl 

" Then you know all about the elective affinities ? " 

" That's some idea of: Goethe's, isn't it? I have only read one 
of his novels. I like Schiller so much better." 

" A feminine mistake ; women read Werther, and think that is 
the beginning and end of Goethe." 

They have lingered on the wide square landing, lighted dimly 
by a stained-glass window. 

" Are you coming, Westray ? " shouts Dewrance below. 

" Directly," answers Herman impatiently. " I should so like 
to talk to you of German literature," he continues. "How I wish 
there were any chance of your being in town next spring! " 

Editha smiles. 

" It is not the most improbable thing in the world. There is 
a scheme for a loop line from Pen-y-craig to Lochwithian. I 
believe papa is going up to London to attend committees and 
deputations, and I don't exactly know what. He has promised 
that if he goes he will take me." 

" And will you promise, on your part, that if you do come you 
will persuade Mr. Morcombe to call upon me ? I know most of 
the newspaper people, and might be of some use to him." 

" I am sure papa will be very glad to see you again." 

" Are you coming?" in despairing appeal from Dewrance. 

" One would suppose that dogcart were an express train. 
Good-bye, Miss Morcombe." 

They shake hands, lingeringly on Herman's part, and he runs 
down-stairs, Editha remaining on the landing, leaning against 
one of the heraldic lions. His last upward glance shows him the 
calm fair face, with its frame of dark hair and fresh youthful 

Mr. Morcombe promises to call at Herman's chambers in the 
spring, or perhaps even as early as February, as the railroad 
people are anxious to get their bill without delay. And thus 
Herman Westray leaves Lochwithian, not altogether without 
hope of meeting the serious-minded young lady again. 

" Why did you ask the Squira to call upon you?" growls Dew- 
rance, with a discontented air, as they walk across the meadow, 
the two elder clerics in advance, discoursing profoundly upon 
glebe. " You say that Editha Morcombe is no wife for a man of 
your stamp ? " 

" Who talked of wives ? I merely wish to be commonly civil 
when the Squire comes to London." 

" Commonly civil," echoes Dewrance ; " I've seen curious re- 
sults come of common civility in my time." 

They go back to Mr. Petherick's bachelor's box ; and being 
pressed thereto by the hospitable parson, smoke cigars and drink 

C2 Hostages to Fortune. 

mild infusions of whiskey-and-soda-water for an hour or two, 
and then drive back to Llandrysak in the glow and glory of 
sunset, which has melted into moonlight before they arrive at the 


" A year divides us, love from love, 

Though you love now, though I loved then 
The gulf is strait, but deep enough ; 

Who shall recro.>s, who among men 
Shall cross again ? " 

An autumnal evening ; soft, gray, and misty in the country ; 
thick, smoky, damp, and disagreeable in town. The last night 
of October, and the first night of Herman Westray's new and 
original comedy, Hemlock ; the opening night of Mrs. Brand- 
reth's brand-new theatre, the Frivolity — altogether a great night 
in the dramatic world. 

For the last week or so the critics, and those outside enthu- 
siasts who, make it their business to know all about the inside 
workings of their favourite theatres, have been discussing Mrs. 
Brandreth's future. She is young, handsome, popular, and 
almost universally admired. Of course there are those unplea- 
sant people, the judicious few, who think her art a shade too artifi- 
cial, her beauty somewhat too sharply accentuated by those ex- 
travagances of toilette which astonish and delight the multitude. 
But, on the whole, Myra Brandreth is a favourite with the play- 
going public, and it is a matter to bo counted upon that the 
Frivolity stalls will fill nightly, and the Frivolity private boxes 
— such cozy little nests of velvet and satin — will go oft briskly 
at Mr. Mitchell's. The new theatre has been discussed at West- 
end dinner tables, with that amiable assumption of knowledge 
and unconscious ignorance which distinguish the dramatic Sir 
Oracle. The salaries Mrs. Brandreth is to pay her company, the 
cost of the decorations, the terms Mr. Westray is to receive for 
his play, have been stated with an exactness which passes cur- 
rent for accuracy. 

Hostages to Fortune. C3 

And now the all-important night has arrived, and at a quarter 
before eight the dainty little theatre is packed as closely as if it 
were indeed a bon-bon box filled with chocolats pralines and 
chocolats a la creme. The critics are there in full phalanx, somo 
of them with handsome wives at their elbows, to assist them in 
forming their opinions, or at least to expound the merits of Mrs. 
Brandreth's dresses. All these critical gentlemen display a lively 
interest in the event of the night, and have such a good-natured 
air that it is hard to believe that gall may flow from their pens 
instead of honey. 

The general public is here in full force, having paid its money, 
eager for the favourite's triumph ; hut that particular public of 
literature and art, which in many cases has not paid for admit- 
tance, is the most noticeable. These the general public point 
out to each other, and whisper about, while the band plods reso- 
lutely through, a set of German waltzes, to which nobody thinks 
of listening. 

The private boxes are all occupied ; pretty faces, bright 
dresses, line the theatre. It has been so artfully designed that 
the gallery, though a fair place for seeing from, is almost in- 
visible to the parterre and boxes, being, as it were, effaced by a 
dome of gilded lattice, the most noticeable feature tn the house, 
which screens the sun-burner and tempers its effulgence. Above 
this perforated dome there are large sky-lights which open to 
the cool night ; so that in warm and fine weather the Frivolity 
may be made almost an open-air theatre. 

The one private box which is not well filled is the stage-box 
on the left of the proscenium. Here sits a gentleman in solitary 
state — a gentleman of about five-and-thirty — in faultless evening 
dress. His hair, moustache, and whiskers are of that nondescript 
colour which it would be flattery to call brown, mockery to de- 
scribe as auburn ; they are of the hue of a well-preserved hay- 
rick, but are made the most of by the barber's art, and are 
evidently not unvalued by their owner. The general expression 
of the gentleman's face is weary to vacuousness. His dull gray 
eye surveys the house, but no warmth is communicated to it by 
the enthusiasm evident in that expectant crowd. 

" There's Earlswood in that stage-box," says Jack Pollintory 
of the Highflyc r to Dick Savage of the Chameleon; "I wonder 
how he feels now that the builder's bill has come in ? " 

" Pshaw ! a howling swell like that thinks no more of paying 
for a theatre than you would of settling for a Greenwich dinner. 
He has more coal-mines than I have boots." 

Opera-glasses are directed to the solitary gentleman by this 
time. It is generally known that he is Lord Earlswood, and it is 

64 Hostages to Fortune. 

known to the esoteric few that Lord Eaiiswood's money is to pay 
for the building of the Frivolity. Of course Mrs. Brandreth has 
taken the theatre in good faith, and will pay her rent, two 
thousand five hundred per annum, as punctually as quarter-day 
comes round, and will stand or fall by her venture ; but it is 
known that the actual erection of the theatre is Lord Earlswood's 
affair. The straw-coloured quilted satin ; the amethyst velvet 
cushions, chair covers, curtains ; the medallion portraits of Juliet, 
Cordelia, Desdemona, Eosalind, Perdita, Beatrice, Katherine, 
painted by Academicians ; the crystal girandoles with clusters of 
parian candles, in which a slender gastube is artfully inserted ; 
the cloak-rooms, with their luxurious appliances ; the smoking 
divan, opening upon a wide stone balcony, overhanging the 
street, where the smokers may sit on warm nights — these, and a 
hundred other details, Lord Earlswood must pay for ; and the 
British public uses its lorgnettes freely, and regards him with a 
kind of interest, on account of his risk ; just as on the turf, the 
same public is interested in the man who is known to speculate 

There has been an airy trifle in the way of burletta to play the 
audience in — pretty girls with fresh young voices, well-dressed, 
well-bred yo"Ung men, and sparkling French music ; but now the 
serious interest, the vital business of the night, is to begin with 
Herman's comedy. 

Hemlock, a classical comedy, suggested by Emile Augier. 
" Suggested is a good word," says Mr. Skalper, in the stalls, to his 
friend Mr. Phalyer. " Of course we know what it is, La Gigue 
done into modern slang." 

Behind the scenes the excitement is feverous, breathless, but 
not noisy ; sound and fury are not to be allowed in Myra 
Brandreth's theatre. The scene-painter soothes his ruffled nerves 
with a cigar, in the dim solitude of his painting-room in the flies, 
and wonders whether those Pompeian scenes which he has 
laboured at with so much care will hit that uncertain mark — the 
public taste. In the wardrobe, a bare and uninviting apartment, 
also in the region of the flies, and opening upon the gutter and para- 
pet of the building, Mrs. Lockstitch, the costume-maker, and her 
pale-faced minions are sewing the last bit of gold lace on the last 
of the ballet-dresses, while the damsel who is to wear that 
classic garment waits anxiously in the dressing-room below, 
scantily clad in tight-fitting pink hose, and solacing herself with 
half-a-pint of porter and a ham-sandwich. This opening night 
of the theatre is an occasion on which even an honest little 
ballet-girl, living on he* - own salary and helping mother to live 
withal, may rush into the extravagance of an 'ani-sandwich. 

Hostages to Fortune. 65 

But excitement the most intense, because the most suppressed, 
reigns in Myra Brandreth's dressing-room, that exquisite apart- 
ment which focuses in one small centre the costliness and taste 
of the whole building. Lord Earlswood has said to the architect, 
"Let the manageress's dressing-room be as perfect as art can 
make it. Simply that ; anything less than that, and I shall con- 
sider the house a failure." 

The architect has obeyed according to his lights. Pompadour, 
in the plenitude of her power, with France at her feet, ac- 
knowledged protectress of the arts, may have had rooms as 
elegant, hut not more elegant or more costly. Walls upholstered 
in sky-blue satin embroidered with butterflies and birds — birds 
and butterflies so artistic that they seem living creatures fluttering 
in a tropical sky ; doors veneered with ivory, mantelpiece of 
Sevres, ceiling painted with more birds and butterflies, chairs and 
couches of white enamelled wood and quilted blue satin, toilet- 
table, the crowning wonder of all, entirely of ivory and silver. 
There is not an inch of velvet or gilding in the room. All is 
cool, soft, reposeful. After the brightness and glitter of the 
theatre, the eye rests here as on a glimpse of dark -blue water. 

Myra Brandreth stands before the cheval-glass, dressed for her 
part. The long straight robe of white cashmere, like Vivien's 
sea-green samite, rather expresses than hides her slender 
figure ; each round slim arm is clasped with a golden serpent, 
and a golden serpent binds her chestnut hair. These are her sole 

In an easy-chair by the fireplace sits Herman Westray, who 
has just been admitted to an audience, being altogether a pri- 
vileged person this evening. He sees the room to-night for the 
first time, and has been warm in his commendation. 

"The Queen of Sheba could have had nothing better," he says. 

Mrs. Brandreth shrugs her slim shoulders with a deprecating 

" How much more useful the money this room cost would have 
been in Consols ! " she replies. 

"No doubt; but a man of Earlswood's stamp likes spending 
money, not giving it away. This room will be talked about by 
the clubs. A few thousands invested in your name would bring 
him no renown, though the gift of such a sum might be only an 
appropriate tribute to your genius." 

Myra's dark eyes flash upon him angrily for a moment, and 
then grow grave even to gloom. 

" I suppose / shall be talked of at the clubs as well as the 
theatre," she says moodily, looking down, as she arranges the 
folds of her cashmere drapery. 

66 Hostages to Fortune. 

"That goes without saying. You did not expect to escape 
when you allowed Earlswood to build a theatre for you ? " 

" Lord Earlswood built this house as a speculation." 

" No doubt — as a speculation." 

" It was not my fault that he squandered thousands upon this 
foolish room. I told him that all I wanted was space and ventila- 
tion, and to be tolerably near the stage. I must do him the 
justice to say that his answer was that of a gentleman. ' You 
are to pay me rent for the theatre,' he said. 'That is a matter of 
business, and I shall gladly accept any suggestions you may 
make ; but your dressing-room is to be a present from me to you, 
and you must allow me to gratify my own taste.' " 

" Very nice of his lordship. The dressing-room is a capital 
advertisement for the theatre. I don't think you need grumble 
about it. And now, honestly, do you feel that you are going to 
make a success ? " 

" I feel as if I were going to break down. My head is burning, 
and my hands are like ice." 

She gives him her small thin hand, stone cold and trembling. 

" You'll do," he answers decisively. " The piece will be a hit." 

He knows that with her highly-strung nature she is sure to be 
greatest when she suffers most. 

" Keep yourself quiet," he says kindly. " I shall go round to 
the stalls, and not stir till the curtain drops. I have not the 
faintest fear of the result." 

" Say one kind word to me, Herman, before you go," she 
pleads, with tenderest saddest beseechment in her tones. 

He comes to her slowly, takes the small smoothly-braided 
head between his hands, and kisses her forehead. So might 
brother or father have kissed her in some solemn crisis of her 
life. He is so utterly au 'artist that this hazard of success or 
non-success to-night seems to him a solemn crisis. 

" God bless you, Myra ! Be sure of triumph ; I see the fore- 
cast of it shining in yonr eyes. Let my play succeed, and Earls- 
wood's speculation — fail." 

That earnest look of his, straight into the bright dark eyes, 
explains the hidden significance of his speech. When he is gone, 
Myra Brandreth looks round the room with a slow deliberate 
survey, scornful almost to loathing. 

" Does he think I am to be bought with ivory and Sevres ? " 
she asks. 

Hostages to Fortune. 67 


" Hebis ! Tumour sans lendsuiain ui veil'.a 
rul-U j.i'iiiiis 1" 

Herman is in his place just in time to see the curtain rise c:i a 
scene as perfect as any which our realistic and artistic modern 
stage has ever offered to the public. It is an interior in Pompeii, 
elaborate, exquisite in its details as a picture by Alma Tadema. 
The foreground represents the triclinium, or dining-room, divided 
by marble columns from the peristyle, where a silvery spray flies 
upwards amidst the gloom of oleander and olive. Through the 
o;vn roof of that inner court shines the calm summer moon. 
Three men, reclining on their narrow couches around a central 
table laden with fruits and flowers and tapering wine flasks, 
occupy the stage, one young, with curled locks, crowned with a 
rose-garland. Slaves are in attendance ; flute-players, dancing- 
girls fill the background; but as the scene progresses these melt 
away. Leander, a rich young patrician, being weary of life and 
its beaten round of pleasures, has determined to make a sudden 
end of a brief bright existence with a draught of hemlock. He 
announces his resolution to his two parasites, middle-aged pro- 
fligates, who have been the instruments of his corruption. He 
frankly expresses his contempt for both these sycophants, one 
a drunkard the other a miser, but tells them that he is going to 
leave his wealth to one or other of them, upon a certain condi- 
tion. He has purchased a lovely slave from Cyprus, and his for- 
tune shall be bestowed upon that one of his flatterers whom the 
fair captive favours with her preference. 

The two friends are by no means charmed by the idea of this 
encounter ; but Leander tells them that, having no real friend- 
ship for one or the other, he saves himself the embarrassment of 
choosing his heir by letting some one else make the election. 
The friends at first indignantly decline the contest, assume a 
noble scorn, and forego all hope of Leander's wealth rather than 
stoop to sue for a girl's favour, which both feel doubtful of con- 
ciliating ; but being left to themselves, prudence comes to the 
rescue, and they determine . to hazard the trial, each entertaining 
the lowest estimate of the other's merits. Leander returns, and 
hears that their honourable scruples have evaporated. 

And now the slave appears in her white robes, with the golden 
serpents on her wrists, pale, beautiful, with those great dark eyes 
of hers, which flash swiftly round the house in one brief survey 

G3 Hostages to Fortune. 

of the audience. She is a captive, ravished by a crew of pirates 
from the bright shore where she- wandered gaily a little while 
ago ! a maiden of noble birth, reft from home and kindred. It 
scarcely needs that she should tell this, in a brief impassioned 
speech, to her new lord, Myra Brandreth's look and bearing being 
so entirely noble. Leander is touched \>j her beauty and sorrow, 
receives her gently, tenderly even, assures her that no wrong 
shall be done her. He beseeches her, in order to decide a wager, 
to declare which of his two friends shall have rendered himself 
the most agreeable to her in an hour's conversation. 

Then follows a scene in which the two sycophants display the 
graces of their mind in delicate flatteries addressed to Helena 
the slave ; but presently, losing temper in the keen sense of 
rivalry and the magnitude of the stake, fall foul of each other 
in a round of abuse, and end by fisticuffs. Helena rushes out to 
seek some one to part them, and Leander appears while they are 
lighting, and laughs with cynical delight at the realisation of his 
intention. His heritage has made them foes already. He has 
the pleasure of seeing the vultures fighting for his carcass before 
his death. 

From this point Herman's piece diverges from Augier's graceful 
comedy. Leander, who professes to have proved the hollowness 
of life and the worthlessness of love, to be weary to satiety of 
pleasure and beauty, is touched by Helena's modest loveliness 
and noble mind ; and before he is aware, his heart is taken 
captive by his prisoner. Herman makes the love-scenes more 
important than they are in the original ; he strengthens the cha- 
racter of Helena, deepens the sentimental interest to intensity. 
At the last, when the appointed hour strikes, and the fatal cup is 
at Leander's lips, the passionate cry, " I love you ! " breaks from 
the slave. The audience is moved as with one mind, and a burst 
of enthusiastic applause proclaims the triumph of actress and 

Herman has rendered Augier's gracious rhyme into blank verse ; 
vigorous, fanciful, poetical, full of repartee and sudden turns of 
thought ; modern allusions thinly veiled by their classic dress, 
keen touches of irony that charm an enlightened audience. The 
curtain falls amidst a storm of applause. The pit, always fore- 
most in the appreciation of an intellectual treat, rises in its 
enthusiasm as Frederick Selwyn, the Leander, leads Myra Brand- 
reth before the curtain. Bouquets shoot, rocket-like, through 
the air, whence none can discover, but seemingly from the 
latticed gallery that runs round the upper circle. After the actors 
and scene-painter have been called, some friendly soul remembers 
the author, and Mr. Westray is loudly demanded. Herman goes 

Hostages to Fortune. 69 

round to Lord Eulswood's box, whence ho honours the British 
public with a languid and somewhat supercilious bow. 

" Do you think it's a success ? " asks his lordship, with the air 
of a man who rarely trusts himself to arrive at an opinion single- 

"They're making a good deal of noise," answers Herman 
languidly— he is always languid with Lord Earlswood — " but 
that's apt to be fallacious. I believe, as a rule, the pieces that 
seem doubtful on first nights pay best in the long ran." 

" Brandreth was magnificent," says the landlord of the Fri- 
volity. " I daresay the play is very clever from a literary stand- 
point, but, as a matter of personal taste, I should have preferred 
opera bouffe, or a modern drama, with Brandreth poisoning her- 
self in a riding-habit, and rolling about the floor. I saw that 
done somewhere last year, and it took immensely. H'wever, she 
was great in your last scene." 

" Mrs. Brandreth's acting was simply superb throughout," 
replies Herman, with a tone of respect so pointed as to be a 
reproof. Lord Earlswood is, however, not accessible to such 
delicate correction. 

" Yes," he drawls, " Brandreth is a first-rate all-round actress ; 
but I think this piece of yours shoots over the heads of your 
audience. One's obliged to keep one's mind on the stretch in 
order to understand it." 

"That depends upon the size of one's mind," answers Her- 
man coolly ; " small minds naturally require stretching." 

"Haw!" exclaims his lordship, with a laugh like a single 
knock — loud, startling, monosyllabic; "that's not bad. Shall 
we go round and see Brandreth ? " 

" Certainly. I must lose no time in acknowledging my obliga- 
tions to her." 

There is a neat little green-baize door just outside Lord Earls- 
wood's box, which opens on to the prompt side of the stage. His 
lordship made this door an essential feature in the architect's plan, 
and stipulated for a private key of the same, and the box ad 
jacent thereto, before he signed the lease which has made Mrs. 
Brandreth actual mistress of the theatre. He uses his key to- 
night with a sidelong glance of triumph at Herman ; but although 
Herman has been admitted to the manageress's dressing-room, 
Lord Earlswood dare go no farther than thegreenrcom. 

It is a pretty little room, with a large looking-glass reaching 
from floor to ceiling at one end, in which the actors and actresses 
may survey their toilettes and themselves. A low chintz covered 
divan runs round the rest of the room : lithographed portraits of 
French and English actors adorn the walls ; a majolica jardiniere 


70 Huskies to Fortune. 

in the centre is filled with Mrs. BrandretU's bouquets — floral 
tributes, which she has left there in disdainful carelessness. ~ 

A door opens from the greenroom to the manageress's dressing- 
room, and the greenroom is within a step or two of the prompt 
entrance. The rest of the performers are accommodated in upper 
chambers, on a level with the gallery, and agreeably warmed by 
the heated air ascending from the lower part of the house. 

" Never mind ; perhaps when we go to heaven we shall all be 
manageress, and have ivory toilette-tables," says Bella Walters, 
the little burlesque actress, as she stands before her two-and-six- 
penny looking-glass, dabbing a final coat of prepared chalk upon 
her pert little nose, while old Mrs. Humpsby, the dresser, grins 

Mrs. Brandreth is dressing ; so the two gentlemen wait, and 
stare at the people dressed for the burlesque, who run in to 
scrutinise their new costumes in the big mirror : girl cavaliers 
in satin trunks and satin boots, low comedians with false noses 
of cotton-wool, mythological, fairylandish, and so on. 

" What a lot of people ! " cries Lord Earlswood. " I'm afraid 
it's an expensive company." 

" I shouldn't wonder if it were," answers Herman dryly. 

It seems to him that this theatre is the most costly toy that 
ever a man made for himself. It has cost Myra Brandreth her 
reputation already, and has associated her name with Lord Earls- 
wood's to the end of time, or at least to the end of the time we 
live in, which is pretty much the same thing. When a man has 
been dead as long as Homer, it must be of small consequence 
what the world thinks of him. 

The two gentlemen wait for a time that seems long to both ; 
but at last the door opens, and Mrs. Brandreth appears in a dark- 
green cloth dress, made as neatly and as plainly as a riding-habit, 
and with a sealskin jacket hanging across her arm. A small sealskin 
hat crowns her dark hair ; not a feather, not an ornament is 
visible. She wears a linen collar, linen cuffs, gloves the colour 
of her dress. Mrs. Brandreth has too much taste to trail 
elaborately-trimmed silks or velvets about the side-scenes of a 

" That's a capital cross-country get-up, Mrs. Brandreth," says 
Lord Earlswood approvingly. " Allow me to congratulate you on . 
your performance. It must have surprised your greatest admirers." 

" Thanks. I'm glad you were pleased," with the briefest 
glance and smile ; and then, turning to Herman, she asks, 
earnestly, " Were you satisfied ? " 

" You have made my piece," he answers warml} r . 

" I never acted in a play of yours before — think of that ! " 

j.j.usinjr-5 iv L'urtune. 71 

"And I never had a character of mine so interpreted. You 
breathed a soul into my mould of clay." 

She gives him a look which glorifies her pale face— very pale 
after the excitement of the evening — a look which arouses as 
much jealousy in Lord Earlswood as that gentleman's limited 
capacity for passion or suffering will allow, lie is of a some- 
what lukewarm temperament by nature, copied down almost to 
freezing-point by education. But he thinks it would be a rather 
nice thing for Myra Brandreth to be something more to him than 
a popular actress, and he pursues her with as much energy as he 
is capable of infusing into any action of his life. This building 
a theatre for her has been the gratification of his last fancy, and 
has served to occupy that scantily-furnished chamber which ho 
calls his mind. He has a great deal of money, and finds his 
chief enjoyment in getting rid of it. He has built yachts and 
kept racehorses — and the only novel amusement left for him has 
been to build a theatre. 

There is a good deal said about the play and the house, the 
effect of the decorations with a full auditorium, and Mr. Pipp the 
architect is praised for his perforated Moorish dome. 

" Makes the theatre look like a parrot-cage," says Lord Earls- 
wood, who imitates Horace in his incapacity for admiration, "but 
it's rather a nice idea, I daresay. Jokes — fellow who wrote about 
the house in the Builder — said it was good, and a builder-fellow 
ought to understand that kind of thing." 

" We shall call a rehearsal for twelve o'clock on Monday," Mrs. 
Brandreth says, turning to Herman. " If there is any alteration 
you would like — " 

" There is none ; or at least none that would touch your part. 
Your acting was simply perfect, and the other characters were 
very good. I think we might apply the pruning-knife judi- 
ciously to some of the dialogue — when you are off the stage." 

" You will come on Monday, then ? " 

" Certainly." 

"Good-night, Lord Earlswood," says his lordship's tenant, with 
a certain careless graciousness not altogether flattering to Alger- 
non, Baron Earlswood. 

" Going away so soon ? " he exclaims. 

" It is nearly eleven, and I am rather tired. Good-night, Mr. 

She shakes hands with both gentlemen languidly, and both 
accompany her to her carriage, which is waiting at the stage- 
door. It is the neatest and quietest of broughams, the coachman 
middle-aged, puritanical in the simplicity of his dark-blue over-, 

72 Hostages to Fortune. 

" If you could call on me to-morrow," says Mrs. Brandreth, as 
an afterthought, " we might go through the piece together and 
make what alterations you like in the dialogue. It would save 
time at Monday's rehearsal." 

" No doubt ; but I regret to say Sunday is a busy day with ma 
just now. I shall be occupied all to-morrow." 

" What would your dear father have said if he had heard 
of your working on a Sunday ? " remarks Mrs. Brandreth re- 

" Unhappily the world I belong to just now is very different 
from my father's world." 

" Just now ! That sounds as if you had some notion of with- 
drawing from your present life and its surroundings." 

" I confess to a vague hope of being some day something 
better than an ephemeral scribbler, with a demoniacal printer's 
boy alwavs haunting me as affectionately as the Bottle-imp. 
" Good-night." 

And so they part, and Myra Brandreth sinks wearily into a 
corner of the snug little brougham, and thinks that, notwith- 
standing her dainty bonbon-box of a theatre, with a landlord 
ready to be ridiculously lenient as a creditor, despite her triumph 
of to-night, it is a hard world somehow. 

There is one man whose good word she values — whose praise 
brings maidenly blushes to her matron cheek ; for whose honest 
unalterable love she would barter all she has ever won of pros- 
perity or renown — all praises that have ever been given her by all 
the world beside — and she thinks drearily to-night that of all 
hopeless dreams that ever woman dreamed, her dream of winning 
his heart is the vainest. 

" It was mine once," she tells herself ; " that's what makes it 
so hard to know it can never be mine again. Mine to hold or 
throw away when he was younger and better than he is now, but 
obscure and unpraised ; lost to me now that all the world praises 
him — now, when I could be so proud of him, work for him so 
honestly, cleave to him so faithfully through every change of 
fortune, love him best of all when the world grew weary of him, 
and fame went out like the flame of a candle." 

As in a picture she sees one bright moment of her past ; a 
green lane in summer time ; the sultry breathless heat of late 
Bummer ; a steep grassy bank on which the harts-tongue grows 
tall ; and two figures, her own and Herman's, standing with hand 
ilasped in hand, her head upon his shoulder, her eyes looking up 
at him proudly, fondly as a girl's eyes turn to her first lover ; but 
that picture is nearly ten years old, and Myra Brandreth's 

Hostages to Fortune. 73 

thoughts and feelings have gone through many a change within 
the compass of those years. 

"How- bitterly tru?. French proverbs are ! " she thinks. " On 
r.'ricnt toujours — And I am as weak as the rest, and lament the 
treasure I cast away, and have changed my standard of value, 
and that which I counted gold now loathe as basest dross.'' 


" And now the time is winterly, 
T:ie first love fides too ; none will ee, 
When April warms the world anew, 
The plaoa wherein love grew." 

Ten years ago — earth younger and fresher by ten years ; so much 
the more of blossoming wilderness in the southern hemisphere 
where the emigrant and the squatter has yet to set the print of 
his civilising sole ; so many the more fair and pleasant places in 
fair and pleasant England which the speculative builder, with 
his dust and his bricks and his lime and mortar, has yet to dis- 
figure. The world brighter and younger by a decade. Great 
men still living who now are dust ; dear names still sounding in 
the current talk of life which are now written in epitaphs and 
remembered as household words ; and Myra Clitheroe is a tall 
slip of a girl, just over her seventeenth birthday — birthday at 
which there has been an innocent little tea-drinking in Colonel 
Ciitheroe's cottage, whereto the young people from the Rectory 
have been bidden. 

Colonel Clitheroe is one of those adventurous spirits who, in 
the decline of their days, are apt to seek the repose of remote 
and tranquil villages, where the requirements of life are narrowed 
by the simple manners of the inhabitants, where beef and mutton, 
and milk and butter, and eggs and poultry are cheap, and house- 
ivnt low, and air purest ether, and sky unstained by the smoke 
or factory chimneys, and the village a quaint little cluster of low- 
roofed cottages embowered in greenery, and pigs, pigeons, and 
fowls in full possession of the High-street, and the post-office and 
general-shop an institution to be wondered at, so comprehensive 
and universal are its contents. 

74 Hostages to Fortune. 

The Colonel is a man who has seen much of life, lie lias 
fought for Don Carlos, and derives his military title from his 
service in Spain. He has lived in Paris, Madrid, and London ; 
has spent some portion of his days in South America, and is not 
unremembered in Mexico. But at sixty-seven years of age he 
has had enough of a nomad existence. It is pleasant to remem- 
ber his wanderings and relate his adventures while he reposes at 
ease by his well-warmed hearth ; pleasanter still to have a grace- 
ful quick-witted daughter always at hand to minister to his 
numerous little wants, plan his dinners, nay, even fry an omelette, 
or make a dish of macaroni with parmesan, on occasions ; a 
bright clever girl, who makes a sovereign go as far as two dis- 
pensed by a duller housekeeper. His cottage at Colehaven is the 
pink of prettiness, very small, but seeming so much the snugger 
for its smallness, daintily furnished with the relics of larger and 
more splendid abodes, picked up as occasion serves at sales, but 
always appropriate, and each object suiting its particular corner as 
perfectly as if it had been made to order for that very spot. 
This general fitness of things may in some measure be explained 
by the fact that Colonel and Miss Ciitheroc -have devoted as much 
forethought to, and taken as much pains about, the purchase of 
second-hand what-not, work-table, or easy-chair, as people of larger 
means bestow upon the acquirement of a landed estate. The 
little old-fashioned cottage, with its thatched roof and pigeon- 
hole windows, is full of odd corners and unexpect xl angles, and 
in every corner there is something bright and pretty to strike the 
stranger's eye. A triangular satin-wood cabinet, with trays of 
Indian shells; a quaint little bookcase with a few chosen volumes; 
an old German oak commode surmounted by a blue delf jar. 
Myra is one of those active spirits who rise with the larks, and 
she gives her mornings to household duties, and flits about, 
light of foot, with gloved hands and broad iinen apron, duster, 
and dusting-brush ; while Sarah, the maid-of-all-work, is broiling 
the Colonel's rasher and frying chopped potatoes for a simple 
Devonshire breakfast. 

Colonel Clitheroe, though a soldier of fortune, has been over an 
honest man. It is his boast that he has lived among spendthrifts 
and social Bohemians, and yet paid his way ; that no tailor re- 
members him with a pang ; that no time-yellowed page in a 
fashionable bootmaker's ledger records his dishonour. 

In his Devonian retirement he amuses himself with literature, 
contributes, in his small way, to the magazines, and widens his 
narrow income somewhat by these means. But the pride which 
he takes in his literary achievements is worth far more to him 
than tli3 ro.n:.m'"-iH'Vi At. Colehaven he is looked no to as one 

Hostages to Fortune. 75 

of the authors of the day. A Colehaven person suddenly- 
launched into London society would be infinitely surprised to find 
the name of Clithevoe unhonoured and unknown. At Colehaven, 
Colonel Clitheroe occupies the same platform as Sydney Smith 
and Theodore Hook once adorned in the wider world of cities. 
People exhibit him at their dinners as a flourishing specimen of 
the literary lion ; his dictum upon literature, and even upon 
a rt as a half-sister to literature, is accepted as law ; his latest 
intelligence of the world of letters heard with avidity. In fact, 
trading upon the smallest of capitals, Colonel Clitheroe finds 
'.limself a great man at Colehaven, and discovers that life in this 
remote village, with its outlying country houses, more or less 
hospitably inclined, is better than life in Paris or London. 

His only daughter Myra is not quite so well satisfied with her 
suitouii dings at Colehaven. She has lived there nearly ten years, 
has grown from childhood to womanhood, in that narrow little 
world, and she has dim recollections of London and Paris, which 
are like a dream of the Arabian Nights. She was taken to a 
theatre once — a century ago it seems to her — and she can to this 
day recall the glitter and glory of the scene, the music, the lamp- 
light, the people — more people massed in one shining circle than 
have been in Colehaven since the creation, she imagines. She 
looks back regretfully to her city life as if it were all represented 
by that one night at the theatre, and she asks her father 
wonderingly how he can exist in this dull old village after his ex- 
perience of brighter worlds. 

" My love, if I could transfer this little box -with all its appur- 
tenances to the best part of Kensington, live as cheaply there as 
I do here, and be as big a man there as I am here, I would 
transfer myself to Kensington to-morrow ; but as London or 
Paris for you and me would mean a shabby lodging in a third- 
rate neighbourhood, butcher's meat at a shilling a pound, no 
cream or fresh eggs, and no county families to ask us to 
dinner — " 

" Us," echoes Myra fretfully. " Who asks me ? " 

" My love, you are not yet of an age to be invited to dinner- 
parties. All that will come in due course. With your beauty 
and accomplishments how can you fail to be invited out and 
made much of ? " 

Myra sighs and smiles, and kisses that dear foolish papa, who 
has such a pleasant way of saying things. She knows that, with 
even less opportunities, she is more accomplished than most of the 
git Is of her acquaintance ; sings better, plays more brilliantly, has a 
more general capacity for learning new things, a greater deftness 
of finger, a surer eye at archery, a more exact aim at croquet, 

76 Hostages to Fortune. 

superior taste in the trimming of a dress, the adjustment of a 
ribbon, more skill in the art of making much out of little. There 
are the rectory girls for instance, Georgina and Caroline, Her- 
man's sisters, how dowdily they contrive to dress ; how dull and 
dark and heavy the rectory drawing-room looks under their in- 
dustrious hands ; how monotonous their garden, with the_ same 
flowers blooming in it year after year ! True that Georgie and 
Carrie visit a great deal among the poor, and work their fingers 
almost to the bone at Dorcas meetings, while Myra does neither ; 
her papa insisting upon having her always about him, as she ex- 
plains to her rectory friends plaintively. But in honest truth 
Myra would rather fry an omelette, or make a cup of chocolate, 
or grate parmesan for a dish of macaroni, than sit by sick-beds in 
stuffy cottages reading the Bible, or sew coarse common garment3 
with her delicate little fingers. 

Her father is foolishly fond, perilously indulgent ; praises hi3 
girl's pretty looks, her sweet voice, graceful winning ways, her 
cleverness, and general good management. She lives in an 
atmosphere of praise ; rises every morning to be admired, lies 
down at night pleased with her own beauty and sweetness. The 
one servant is a faithful soul, who has lived with Colonel 
Clitheroe ever since he came to Colehaven, and she simply 
worships Myra, wondering at her as at some beauteous hothouse 
flower which has expanded and blossomed under her eyes. 

The people of the Eectory, the Colonel's nearest and kindest 
neighbours, are almost as fond of Myra as if she were of their 
own flesh and blood. Many a summer afternoon she spends in 
the big old-fashioned garden, with its unvarying round of old- 
fashioned flowers ; flags and columbines, and larkspurs and 
lupins, polyanthuses, tiger-lilies, stocks, and sweet-williams ; 
many a winter's night in the cheerful drawing-room, or playing 
bagatelle or acting charades in the large comfortable low-ceiled 
chamber which is slill called the children's parlour. 

Myra has introduced charades into the rectory household. 
This slip of a girl, who can remember but one night at a theatre, 
has a veritable passion for dramatic art. Before she entered her 
teens she had learned every word of Juliet, Queen Katherine, 
Constance, Lady Macbeth, Cordelia, Bosalind, and Beatrice, and 
she has spouted the passionate speeches to her father in the 
winter gloaming, while the Colonel smoked the pipe of placid 
idleness by his cheery fire, and taught by that loving father the 
girl has grown into a superb elocutionist. No shrill girlish 
treble, but the rich round tones of a cultivated organ swell from 
that column-like throat of hers. The Colonel has been an enthu- 
siastic lover of the stage, and knows that Shakespearean round 

Hostages to Fortune. 11 

by heart, almost as well as his daughter. He is at his best as a 
dramatic critic. lie teaches Myra how the O'Neill used to pause 
hero, or linger fondly on a word there, or rise at such a point to 
indignant passion. He remembers Sarah Siddons' awful whisper 
as that noble form brooded over the pit, appalling in its majestic 
beauty, while those dark intense eyes of hers seemed to pierce the 
gloom of the theatre, seeking the spirits of evil her solemn whisper 
invoked. He recalls Mrs. Jordan, with her joy-inspiring laugh, 
her free grace, her self-abandonment ; and Myra hangs on his 
words with unvarying delight, and asks him again and again to 
describe that wondrous art which seems to have faded into a 

Myra, being now seventeen, exhibits her dramatic powers in 
the children's parlour at the Eectory before select audiences of: 
from four to six. The Eector, like all good Conservatives, is an 
idolater of Shakespeare. 

" If I were shut up in prison as long as John Bunyan, I would 
ask for but two books," he says ; " my Bible and my Shake- 

" What, George, not your fine edition of Jeremy Taylor in 
fifteen volumes ? " cries his wife, knowing how many a small de- 
privation the Hector has endured in order to purchase the hand- 
some calf -bound copy of his favourite divine. 

'■ If I had to put Shakespeare and Taylor in the scale, my love, 
honest Jeremy would kick the beam, great and eloquent as ho 
is. And I'll wager that I should find as good and true a system 
of morals pithily expressed in my Shakespeare as that laid down 
far more ornately and somewhat verbosely by my amiable Jeremy. 
Odd, by the bye, that the great divine, whilst constantly illus- 
trating his arguments with quotations from the Greeks and 
Eomans, hardly ever quotes the English playwright— a sure 
proof, one would say, that Shakespeare was little read, even by 
the erudite, in Taylor's time." 

The Eector therefore, being a staunch Shakespearean, is de- 
lighted with Myra's elocutionary displays, so soon as the girl can 
be persuaded to recite in his hearing. Her rendering of Con- 
stance's speeches he pro'nounces magnificent, her sleeping scene 
from Macbeth marvellous. 

Indeed, as she stood up before them all in the children's par- 
lour, open-eyed yet seeing not, pale with deepest feeling, her low 
rich voice hushed to a solemn whisper, her speech broken, fitful, 
like the faint half-stifled murmuring of a guilty soul tossed on 
sleep's stormy sea, he must have been a captious critic who denied 
her power, or doubted that there was here the highest capacity 
for dramatic greatness. 

/8 Hostages to Fortune. 

As for Herman — impulsive, thoughtless, and but just turned 
twenty — he absolutely bows down and worships her. 

"I only wish you knew Greek," he cries ecstatically, after one 
of her performances — the charades have been put aside by this 
time as childish and trivial, and they get up little scenes from 
Si lakespeare instead of those extemporised performances— " I'd 
teach you Clytemnestra — in iEschylus, you know. That full 
round voice of yours would be magnificent in Greek verse." 

And thereon the youthful Oxonian rolls out the description of 
the beacon fires that greeted the return of Agamemnon, opening 
his mouth very wide. 

" What a lot of ' koi ' and ' oi ' there is in it ! " cries Myra, 
laughing. " What a pity iEschylus didn't write in English ! " 

Myra, just at this time, though three years younger than Her- 
man, has an air of being his senior by ever so much. She has 
been a woman ever since she was twelve ; has been purse- 
bearer and general manager in the dainty cottage ; has been 
allowed to know all the ins and outs of her father's affairs, 
which, in their small way, are somewhat intricate. She is a 
woman in the full consciousness of her beauty and her powers, 
and she is a woman in ambitious longing for renown. 

How many a time, sitting on the hearthrug at her father's 
slippered feet in the friendly gloaming — that gentle half-light in 
which people let slip their innermost thoughts and desires more 
freely than in the glare of day or gas — she has exclaimed, 
" Papa, I mean to be famous ! " 

" My love, you have talents and good looks to make you dis- 
tinguished anywhere ; but — " 

" Don't say ' but,' papa ; there must be no buts. Do you re- 
member somebody's epitaph, ' Here lies one whose name was 
writ in water ' '! If I thought that line would describe me when 
I am dead, I don't believe I could bear the burden of living. I 
don't long for money, as some people do. I haven't the faintest 
desire for horses and carriages, or a big house, or a regiment of 
servants, or even handsome dress, or rank, or station ; but I want 
to be famous." 

" My pet, I have little doubt that you'll make a brilliant mar- 
riage by and by, when you are old enough to visit among the 
county people"— Myra being, at the time of this conversation, 
about fifteen and a half. 

" What, and owe everything to my husband, like lady Teazle ! " 
cries the girl, pushing back a cloud of loose chesnut hair from 
her small decided face. " No, papa I never mean to marry ; I 
mean to be famous. Papa" — coaxiugly — "would you very 
much object to my going on the stage, like Mrs. Siddons ?" 

lloitages to Fortune. 79 

"Myra!" exclaims the outraged father, "do you happen to 
remember my family ?" 

The Colonel is an offshoot of a noble family tree. He belongs 
to a clan whose chieftain is a certain Lord Perranzabuloe — -a 
fetish to whom all the clan bow themselves down with slavish 
worship, though he has never boon known to confer the smallest 
benelit upon any one of them, being a little old man who lives 
obscurely and unsocially in a suburban villa, like an irreligious 
recluse, drinks himself to the verge of delirium tremens, and 
suffers the dominion of an Italian opera-dancer. Yet the clan 
refer to him none the less proudly, and rarely utter half a dozen 
sentences at any social gathering without some Happy allusion 
to " my cousin Lord Perranzabuloe," who seems to pervade their 
lives in some mysterious manner, although ostensibly ignoring 

To Myra's mortal eye, her father's family has been as invisible 
as Mrs. Micawber's relations ; but to her mind's eye they have 
frequently presented themselves, the Colonel reverting to them 
in all discussions as awful powers to be praised and propitiated, 
like the Greek Eumenides, and, like them, beings of malignant 

" What would my family say if a daughter of mine were to 
become an actress V" ejaculates Colonel Ciitheroe. "Conceive 
the feelings of Lord Perranzabuloe ! " 

" But, papa, as you say he's generally tipsy, his feelings must 
be a little blunted by this time," remarks Myra. " And as for 
cur relations, I daresay, in a general way they are very grand, 
and it's rather nice to see their names in the papers occasionally ; 
but as they have never condescended to seem aware of my 
existence, I cannot understand why they need feel injured 
by my going on the stage. Besides, I could change my 

" Change it as you might, the fact would leak out. The 
world would discover that Colonel Clitheroe's daughter was on 
the stage." 

A year and a half later Myra is seventeen, and the same 
subject is again discussed as father and daughter sit by their 
homely hearth, the ruddy fire-light shining on the girl's eager face, 
and sparkling in her dark hazel eyes. 

" Papa, was Mrs. Siddons a very wicked woman ? " 

" My dear, what can suggest such a question '? Mrs. Siddons 
was the pink of propriety. She was received at Frogmore, and 
read Shakespeare to the Queen and Princesses." 

" And Miss O'Neill, was she wicked ? " 

"Miss O'Neill was as much distinguished for her virtue as for 

80 Hostages to Fortune. 

her genius. She married into the baronetage. You may see her 
name in Burke." 

" Then why do you object to my going on the stage, papa ? 
Why do you say Lord Perranzabuloe would be outraged, and all family indignant ? " 

" Because the stage is not well thought of as a profession, my 

" But why not, papa ? " 

The Colonel twirls his gray moustache, at a loss for a reply. 
"Well — my dear — you see — there have been disreputable 
people on the stage." 

" But there have been disreputable painters, papa. That poor 
Morland, for instance, whom you were talking about the other 
day, who drank so, and used to paint with a glass of brandy-and- 
water in his left hand, and sent some pigs to the pawnbroker's 
before they were dry, so that the pawnbroker rubbed out one 
little pig accidentally with his thumb. Yet nobody calls painting 
a disreputable profession. And there have been wicked people 
who wrote books ; wicked lawyers, even great judges ; and 
sometimes even a wicked clergyman. Why should people look 
down upon the stage as a profession ? " 

Again the Colonel twirls his moustache, and knows not how to 
answer this eager disputant. 

Meanwhile the girl's love of dramatic art grows with her 
power of expression. Her taste, her untutored talents astonish 
every one. With a few old shawls and scarves and worthless 
odds and ends she can attire herself with a wondrous grace and 
picturesqueness. Her rapid changes of costume are like sleight- 
ot'-hand. The charm and variety of her elocution, the beauty of 
her voice, the vivachty and expression which constitute the chief 
attraction of her small finely-cut face, are admired by every 
member of her narrow circle, but by none so ardently as by 
Herman AVestray. There is just enough, in herunlikeness to all 
other women, to catch the fancy of a young man ; and before 
that last Long Vacation is over, Herman is deeply in love, with 
the one only true, absorbing, unchanging, eternal passion which 
attacks a youth of twenty as ferociously as whooping-cough lays 
its iron grip upon tender infancy. 

So in that shady lane which Mrs. Brandreth so vividly remem- 
bers, Herman tells Colonel Clitheroe's daughter his love ; and 
she responds, sobbing, that she means to be single all her life, 
and famous — solitary and miserable, perhaps, like a female Childe 
Harold, but at any price famous. And then, wooed persistently, 
a fond arm encircling her, dark-blue eyes looking down into hers, 
words coining swiftly — words that seem eloquent as noblest 

Ilustogrn to Fortune. 81 

verse — 1 1 10 girl is won to admit that if she conld love any one, 
it would be Herman ; it' she could resign her hope of fame for 
any one, it would be for Herman ; if she could consent to die 
inglorious, but live loving and beloved — if she could submit to 
have her name written in water — it would he for Herman ; nay, 
at last, that she does love him — that she will forego all things 
for his sake — will he his for all time : so soon as he shall have 
taken orders, and that curacy which is his present object and hope 
shall be obtained by him. Thus they leave the lane plighted 
lovers ; and Myra, although deeply happy, resigns with a re- 
gretful sigh all thought of being as famous as Miss O'Neill. 

Herman goes back to Oxford, and reads harder than ever ; and 
just at this time a fever of strong opinion quickens the pulse of 
thought at that grave old university. Some take the fever one 
way, some another. Some tranquil souls escape the fiery blast 
unscathed. Some go over to Eome ; some stop short at Ritualism. 
Some find their convictions overthrown like a rickety temple of 
frailest carpentry, and wander away, beyond the light of former 
guiding stars, into a howling wilderness of unbelief. Herman 
takes the infection badly, and joins these last. He discovers 
that his convictions are not earnest enough for the Church — that 
too much Aristotle has been the death of his spiritualism. He 
shrinks from announcing this change of feeling to the dear old 
father at home, or the fond faithful mother, or the pious sisters; 
but he writes a long and wild epistle to Myra, which she 
does not understand in the least, and sends her Shelley, by 
way of pioneer of his new opinions, whom she comprehends 
even less. 

Before this year is out the good-natured old Colonel dies sud- 
denly of an apoplectic seizure — sad result of ten years' ease and 
high living — and a member of the invisible family comes for- 
ward to take possession of Myra; a female member, a military 
widow, with a strong moustache and a manner suggestive of 
cavalry — a lady who resides at Bath, in which city she is 
honoured and admired as Mrs. Major Pompion. Mrs. Major 
Pompion is the late colonel's half-sister, and consequently Myra's 

" Remember, my dear, I am a Clitheroe," she says proudly. 
" My father married twice. His first wife, your father's mother, 
was connected with trade — her people supplied ships with bis- 
cuits and ropes, and that kind of thing — wealthy but plebeian. 
My mother was a baronet's seventh daughter, and as poor as a 
church mouse. You see I am not afraid of putting things in 
plain English." 

Mrs. Pompion knows all the best people in Bath, and under 

82 IIoxlajM to Fortune. 

Mrs. Pompion's military escort Myra sees more society than would 
have been possible at Colehaven, were the county people never 
so friendly. Mrs. Major Pompion's circle is strong in the martial 
element, and by the time Myra has left off her mourning that 
young lady is better posted in military affairs than any other 
damsel in Bath. Her singing, her vivacity, her elocution — for 
she is prevailed upon to give a recitation at a small friendly 
party now and then — win her a host of admirers, and one day 
being deeply offended with Herman's neglect of her last letter — 
his father is dead by this time, and he is fighting the battle of 
life, heavily weighted — Myra Clitheroe listens to the impassioned 
pleading of a certain Captain Brandreth, who has pursued her 
for the last six months, and breaks her troth to Herman Westray. 
This Captain Brandreth — Charley Brandreth among his intimates 
— is good-looking, hare-brained, good-natured, extravagant — not 
rich in the present, but with large expectations, and heir-pre- 
sumptive to a baronetcy. 

Mrs. Major Pompion is delighted at this turn of affairs. Mrs. 
Major Pompion is all over Bath in her hired landau next day 
announcing dear Myra's engagement. She has taken the girl out 
of kindly feeling, as well as family pride — it wouldn't do for a 
Clitheroe to go out in the world as a nursery governess, or servo 
in a shop — but she has never intended the girl to hang upon her 
for years, and here is a most eligible opportunity for planting the 
sweet child out in life. 

So Myra is allowed no time to change her mind — no oppor- 
tunity for drawing back ; arrangements are made with wondrous 
promptness — preparations hurried on. She has hardly time to 

" I shall give you your trousseau, my love, and it shall bo 
worthy of a Clitheroe," says Mrs. Major Pompion affectionately. 
" If I should find myself crippled by and by in consequence of 
the outlay, you will be able to make it up to me when Charley 
comes into his property." 

The affianced captain is " Charley " already with Mrs. Major 

Charley is not actually disagreeable, and is desperately in love. 
He plunges into debt for presents — gloves, bouquets, theatre and 
concert tickets. Myra's days and nights go by in a whirligig of 
small pleasures — and one morning she awakes to find it is her 

She is Ik mstly sorry for Herman — whom she remembers 
rather as the boy she played with years ago than as the young 
man who wooed her in the lane. She has written him a pretty 
little penitent letter, blaming herself very much and assuring him 

Uush'.ijiS U< l-'urhlHC. 8u 

tliat she is not worthy his regret ; but to this letter there lias 
been no reply. 

So they are married, and Myra begins the wildest, gayest, and 
for a time perhaps, just while the novelty lasts, the happiest lii'e 
she has ever known. She is the belle of the garrison, a queen in 
her small way. That histrionic genius of hers now comes into 
full play. She acts in drawing-room theatricals, and by and by 
Charley and his brother officers go mad upon acting, and get up 
amateur performances in concert-rooms and theatres — for the 
benefit of some charitable institution or other — and the regi- 
ment.loses its head generally, inspired — bewitched, the colonel 
says — by Mrs. Brandreth ; until one day there is a muddle in the 
accounts after one of these amateur performances — out of 
ninety-seven pounds fourteen and sixpence gross returns only 
nine pounds fifteen being forthcoming for the Colour-Sergeants' 
Widows and Orphans Fund. The rent of the room is ten guineas, 
the gas two ; the regimental bandmaster has received a douceur 
of five ; printing has cost five more ; hire of costumes another 
ten. There is an awful deficit somehow, which Charley, who is 
treasurer and acting-manager, finds himself powerless to explain, 
and it leaks out that the accounts of previous performances have 
been administered in a slipshod and unsatisfactory manner — 
whereupon Captain Brandreth is politely advised by his colonel 
that the wisest thing he can do is to sell his commission forth- 
with. He submits to the painful necessity, and he and Myra 
spend that autumn — the third of their wedded life — in furnished 
lodgings at Leamington. 

Perhaps the disgrace breaks Charley's heart. Hard to be 
broken — put to open shame among his brother officers — for a 
paltry fifty pounds, which ha's been muddled away somehow 
while he was carrying the daily proceeds of the sale of tickets 
loose in his waistcoat pockets, meaning to square up and make 
all things straight at a convenient opportunity. At any rate, he 
takes to drinking deeply and riding wildly, and between the two 
contrives to get his neck broken one misty November morning 
out with Lord Leigh's hounds, and thus make a sudden end of 
Myra's wedded life. 

All the old brother-officers are kind to the poor lonely little 
widow — too kind, perhaps ; for Myra is too attractive to escape 
slander, and women friends she has none. Poor Charley has 
died before his expectations could become realities, and Mrs. 
Major Pompion feels that her niece has thrown away her chances, 
and severely reprobates Myra's dramatic follies as the primary 
cause of Charley's ruin and death. Nay, have there not been 
two children born to that frivolous young couple, one of whom 

84 Hostages to Fortune. 

would have been heir to Charley's expectations had death spared 
the frail sprig of humanity ? and even the untimely decease of 
these innocents Mrs. Major Pompion puts down to the account of 
Myra's infatuation for the drama. 

"Poor little neglected things ! " cries the lady to her gossips ; 
" what chance could they have with a mother who thought more 
of acting Lady Gay Spanker than of nursing her babies ? And 
those precious treasures heirs-presumptive to fifteen thousand a 
year ! " 

Ketribution — fell, dire, and fully deserved — has fallen upon 
Myra Brandreth. That is the sentence of condemnation pro- 
nounced by the Vehmgericht of Bath. 

Thus, deserted by her aunt and female friends, pitied- and be- 
friended by her husband's intimates, Myra begins the world for 
the third time, under a cloud. And now the time has come for 
her to realise that old dream and desire of her childhood. She 
stands quite alone. The small estate she inherits from her 
husband would just serve to maintain her in obscurity ; but 
Myra cannot submit to dwell for ever in obscurity. She goes to 
London, sees agents and managers, and of her own unaided 
energy procures an appearance as Juliet, on an off night, at a 
West-end theatre. She is successful enough to obtain an imme- 
diate offer of a leading position from a provincial manager ; and 
from that hour her progress is essentially rapid. A year later 
she is the principal comedy actress at a first-class London theatre, 
her talent an established fact, press and public alike on her side, 
her triumph complete. She has won the prize she pined for in 
her early girlhood — realised that vision she had so often seen in 
the winter gloaming, sitting at her father's feet, looking into the 
ruddy coals, and beholding a glorified picture of herself, radiant, 
resplendent, with a city at her feet. 

The dear old father is gone — he who would so have rejoiced in 
her success — who would have been rejuvenated by her fame — the 
kind old father, whom she had fondly loved, after her impulsive 
inconsiderate fashion ; and poor Charley too, whom she liked 
passably well. She is very lonely, and gladly receives flatteries 
and small attentions, for lack of love ; and thus gives more 
license to Lord Earlswood's admiration than the world deems 
altogether wise. He has rarely spent a tete-a-tete half-hour in 
her society — so rarely that he can count the occasions, and 
treasures the memoiy of them — yet the world couples their names, 
and pityingly murmurs, "Poor Lady Earlswood, what has she 
done that she takes things so quietly ? " 

Soon after Myra's establishment as one of the stars of the 
dramatic hemisphere Herman Westray publishes that book by 

Hostages to Fortune. 85 

which he attains notoriety — half-sister to Fame — at a leap ; and 
as his reputation grows, and the world praises him, and women 
shed tears over his pages, the popular actress looks back with a 
sigh to those unforgotten days when he was hers — lying at her 
feet in the late August noontides, in the misty September twi- 
lights — her slave, with nothing in the world to do 

" but tend 
Upon the hours and times of her desire." 

She has thought of him many a time in the careless years of her 
married life, when Charley's inanity has come home to her a 
little more sharply than usual — when the fact that she was 
wedded to a fool has jarred upon some sensitive chord in her 
nature. She has thought of him very often in her solitary 
widowhood, wondering whether he will ever come back to her — 
wondering why he does not come — thinking him hard and unkind 
for withholding his notice and his praise, now that all the world 
notices and praises her. 

She is among the first to read his books. 0, how they speak 
to her of the days that are gone— of himself ! He has laid his 
own heart upon the dissecting table, and anatomised its every 
pulse, its every throe. She knows now how utterly that heart 
was hers — how torn and wounded by her desertion — how embit- 
tered by her falsehood. She comes face to face with him once 
more, in those vivid pages, and the very breath of her youth 
comes back to her. She hears his passionate words. She is 
young and true and beloved again, ready to surrender all else 
that life can yield her for his dear sake. She reads, and the 
smouldering love flames up with a brighter, stronger fire than of 
old, and she knows that she loves her first lover still, and must 
so love him to the end of life. 

One day, at a garden-party on the banks of the Thames — a 
party given by a popular comedian — an assembly at once 
artistic, literary, and dramatic — Herman and Myra meet again, so 
changed, both of them, by seven years of severance, ; man of 
the world, woman of the world, accomplished in the polite art of 
self-repression both. She greets him with graceful tranquillity ; 
lie renews an old acquaintance with gracious candour. They 
talk of the dear dead fathers, the old home, to which neither 
would like to return, though they praise it so pathetically ; and 
from that time the popular actress and the popular author are 
friends. Herman spends his Sunday afternoons in Myra's draw- 
ing-room in Bloomsbury — she has no grand pretensions, famous 
though she is — and the world begins to exclaim, "Poor Lord 
Eirlswood !" 

86 Hostages to Fortune. 

But in three years of pleasant easy-going friendship, not one 
word of the old love has Herman ever spoken. His very friend- 
liness is the most puissant armour against the shafts of love. 
And Myra knows that the passionate past is dead and buried, 
and fears no art of hers may ever charm it back to life again ; 
yet would give half her life — yes, all the later elderly half oil 
existence — for the power to make love young again, as Medea 
revived the youth of iEson. 


" I had died for this last year, to know 

You loved me. AVho shall turn on fate ? 
I care not if lnve come or ^o 

I\'ow, though your love seek mine for mate — 
It is too late. 

You loved me and you loved ms not ; 

A li tie, much, and ov rmuch. 
"Will you forget as I forprct ? 

Let all dead things lie .Is d ; n ~ne s ic'i 
Are soft to touch 1" 

The winter season grows older. The Frivolity Theatre is a 
success. Lavish expenditure in the beautilication of the house ; 
a certain flavour of aristocracy which pertains to it on account 
of its patrician owner ; Mrs. Brandreth's popularity ; a well-chosen 
company, and a good play— have achieved the desired result. 
The Frivolity is the fashion. Its stalls are engaged a fortnight 
iu advance ; its private boxes are rarely given away, never empty. 
The best people go to the Frivolity, sure of not being outraged 
by anything vulgar in dress or dialogue. Mrs. Brandreth's 
correct taste is a kind of warranty. Patronised by the aristocracy, 
and crowded nightly by the upper middle classes, the theatre pays, 
and pays well. Lord Earlswood has no occasion to be indulgent 
about his rent; Mrs. Brandreth's cheque reaches him, in the most 
formal manner, on quarter-day. Vainly he carries it back to her ; 
vainly urges that, instead of wasting her profits on such an 
outside matter as rent, she should remove to some pretty house 
near the Parks, and set up her Victoria and brougham, instead of 
giving a hired vehicle, with a jog-trot gray-horse very much in 

Hostages to Fortune. 87 

request at Bloomsbury weddings, and as well known at evening 
panics as the linkinan. 

Myra smiles at the suggestion. 

''One swallow does not make a summer," she replies, "nor 
does one lucky season insure a permanent success. We may be 
playing to empty benches next year. Besides, these rooms serve 
my purpose well enough, an I are larger than any I could get at 
the West-end at four times the rent I pay for these." 

His lordship glances round the apartment with a depreciating 
eye, but is fain to own that it is " not half a bad kind of room, 
alter all." It is an old-fashioned drawing-room in Bloomsbury- 
square, panelled, lofty, spacious. The furniture is ancient, like 
the room ; ponderous, but so thoroughly in harmony with the 
room as to have a certain grace and beauty of its own. A 
hundred trifles of Myra Brandreth's arrangement and devising 
lend their charm to the heavy old chairs and tables ; a carved 
Indian davenport, by Deschamps of Madras, stands open in one 
of the deeply -recessed windows ; old china, old Venetian glass, 
from the cottage at Colehavcn, light up the dim corners on this 
dusky afternoon with gleans of brightness and colour; book- 
stands, terra-cotta statuettes of opera singers, just imported from 
Paris, bronzed candelabra from Barbedienne's, the heterogeneous 
offerings of admiring acquaintance, beautify the room. The 
tall looking-glass over the chimney, in its old-fashioned pillared 
frame, reflects firelight and colour and glitter. Heavy folds of 
claret-coloured cloth drape the windows. The room is full of 
rich yet subdued colour ; the open piano, the pile of crimson- 
bound music-books, the reading-stand by Myra's low arm-chair, 
all have their grace in his lordship's eye. 

" How beautiful you would make Bedhill Park ! " he exclaims, 
thinking of that lordly mansion in Surrey, where Lady Earlswood 
rules supreme in a solitude as of Mount Athos or La Trappe, and 
carries Evangelical principles to the verge of fanaticism. 

" I daresay Redhiil is beautiful without any help of mine," 
replies Myra, feeling that they are getting upon dangerous ground. 
Lord and Lady Earlswood's relations for the last five years have 
been an armed neutrality. Her ladyship exercises the gifts and 
graces of the spirit at Redhiil ; deals out hop-sack clothing and 
horse-cloth blankets, tracts, and ghostly counsel to all the old 
women of the neighbourhood, and never mentions his lordship 
without a shudder, as a brand predoomed to burning, not born that 
he might be judged, but judged before he was born. 

His lordship meanwhile leads the life which beseems him ; not 
a particularly profitable life, it must be owned, to himself or any 
one else, saving always certain West-end tradesmen and a staff of 

88 Hostages to Fortune. 

overpaid servants. He thinks with a regretful sigh of what that 
ancestral home of his might have been if Myra had been in his 
own set, and he had met and loved her in time. Worse than 
vain to think of her now. It is not her virtue that appals him, 
but her indifference not to himself alone, but to all things that 
tempt other women. 

So Myra pays her rent, and Lord Earlswood tells people that 
that theatrical venture of his is a lucky hit. and pays him nearly 
five per cent. Myra occupies her old-fashioned Bloomsbury- 
square apartments, and lives as quietly as a curate, and is 
actually saving money ; for although not greedy of gain, she has 
had enough of the education of poverty to know that it is well 
to be a few hundreds in advance of one's daily needs. She 
dresses exquisitely on and off the stage ; but as her own artistic 
taste, and not other people's extravagance, rules her toilette, its 
cost is in no way ruinous. 

Herman she sees occasionally on a Sunday afternoon, on which 
day her room is sometimes crowded with callers ; but not every 
Sunday afternoon, as he was wont to come to her last year, 
dining with her sometimes, and staying late into the evening, 
talking literature and art, or that pleasant worldly talk in 
which the merits and reputations, intellectual gifts and social 
qualities, of our dearest friends come under the scalpel. 
When she upbraids him with the rareness of his visits, he 
tells her that he is deep in a new book, a story which is to be 
something better than his old stories, truer to nature, higher 
and purer in art; something which some other writer, lauded 
by qualities which he, Herman, is supposed to lack, might have 

" I foresee a failure," says Mrs. Brandreth, jealous of the work 
which robs her of his society. " Do you remember chat story in 
Forster's Goldsmith of the man who amused the audience at 
Covent-garden, while the curtain was down, by a very clever 
imitation of a cow ? Emboldened by their applause he essayed 
other animals, when a Scottish voice from the gallery cried, ' Stick 
to the coo, mon ! ' Don't you think that having succeeded in one 
line it is hazardous to attempt another ? " 

" Thanks for the friendly caution, but I don't believe honest 
work can ever be thrown away ; and if my next book prove a 
failure, the labour I shall have given it will be not the less help- 
ful to me as an artist. There are books a man writes which are 
like the solfeggi that make a singer's voice flexible ; there may 
be nothing in the solfeggi, but when that voice attacks a real 
melody, the strength of past labour is its glory. I am ready to 
accept my failures as education." 

lloslnjrs to Fortune. 89 

'• IIow much you have altered since last winter ! " says Myra 

" For the worse, perhaps ? " 

'• I won't say that ; but you have grown serious — serious d 
/aire frcmir." 

' : May not a man he in earnest now and then ? " 

" Perhaps. But the now and then should be very far apart. 
Your late earnestness is chronic. I want you to write me a 
comedy for Easter ; all grace and sparkle; modern to extremity ; 
crystallising the very life of the day ; a photograph of the 
season ; as personal as you can make it without being libellous." 

" My Muse is not as the Muse of Foote, and does not delight in 
personality. Besides, I doubt if I shall write for the stage this 

" What, not after the success of Hemlock! You have acknow- 
ledged that it paid you better than anything you have done in 

" Remuneration is not the ultimate aim of art." 

" Perhaps not ; but it would be rather unkind of j'ou to refuse 
to write for me, when you know that my success in life depends 
on the success of the Frivolity." 

" And my last piece having succeeded, does it follow that my 
next will be equally fortunate? The blue ribbon of the turf is 
rarely won two consecutive years by the same stable. Why not 
try a new hand ? " 

Myra shrugs her shoulders impatiently. She had rather fail 
in a play of his — or, at least, rather sustain a weak play of his 
by the power of her acting — than produce a better play by any 
one else. And he cannot see this ; he cannot understand that it 
is sweet to her to be allied with him even in art. Those fine 
shades of a woman's feelings are beyond his comprehension, artist 
though he is. 

In all their friendly intercourse of the last three years neither 
has ever spoken of their dead past. Myra would give worlds to 
break the ice that covers those deep waters of memory; but 
Herman is silent, and she dare not approach the subject. How- 
ever deeply he may have felt her abandonment of him long ago, 
he has evidently forgiven her now. The fact of his forgiveness 
is more galling to her soul than his fiercest wrath could be. 
Nay, could she but make him angry she would have cause for 

The season wears on — January, February, March. London is 
filling, but as yet there is no sign of Mr. Morcombe or of the bill 
fur the extension of the Pen-y-craig Railway. Herman takes 
the trouble to hunt up a friend versed in parliamentary business, 

90 Hostages to Fortune. 

in the hope of discovering when the Pen-y-craig extension is 
likely to come on ; but the dim future reveals not the form of 
Pen-y-craig. Herman has heard nothing of the Lochwithian 
family from Kichard Dewranee, who has accepted the charge of 
a Protestant flock in the south of France, where his convictions 
are widening every day, until between his acceptation of the 
reformed Church and that older Church out of which it grew 
there runs but a narrow brooklet of difference. 

March sees the publication of Herman's new novel, the book 
in which he has striven to rise out of his old familiar self into 
something better ; the story which in his heart of hearts he has 
dedicated to Editha Morcombc, the girl who has been but a pass- 
ing shadow across his life, and yet, unawares, has deeply in- 
fluenced his thoughts. 

Alas for the fate of faithful work and lofty aspirations ! The 
book is a failure. Kindly critics condemn with faint praise, re- 
cognise the intention of the writer, applaud the idyllic simplicity 
of the story, the purity of the sentiments, and give their readers 
a general impression of weakness and a half-realised design. 
The Censor — in a slashing article three columns long — falls upon 
the fated volumes hip and thigh ; ruthless as Jeffrey in his attack 
upon Wordsworth. " Extract the acid cynicism and the half- 
veiled immorality from Mr. Westray's style, and the result is 
about as palatable as lemonade without lemon or sugar," says the 
Censor, summing up with the grand air of papal infallibility 
which distinguishes that journal. " His Last Love is a novel 
which a schoolgirl might be proud to have written, for the 
grammar is faultless and the French quotations in no case mis- 
spelt. It is a work which Mr. Tupper might father without fear 
of lessening his hold upon the middle-class intellect, and it is a 
curious illustration of the depth of bathos to which a really 
clever writer may descend when he tries to dazzle his admirers in 
a line of art for which he lacks every element of success. Only 
to a Balzac is it given to create two such types as Valeric de 
Marneffe and Eugenie Grandet. Mr. Westray's sympathies are 
obviously with the former class, and his portraiture of ces especes 
is not without merit. Let him stick to tinsel, with which he has 
achieved some rather brilliant effects, and not waste his labour 
in deep-sinking operations upon an imagination which does not 
abound in gold." 

No voice has come down from heaven to pronounce the 
Censor infallible, and even earthly opinion varies in its estimate 
of that journal's wisdom and disinterestedness ; yet this review 
wounds Herman as keenly as if all the voices of heaven and 
earth had acknowledged the critic's judgment unassailable. His 

Hostages to Fortune. 91 

book is the expression of all that was Lest and truest in his 
mind, and neither press nor public cares a straw i'or it. His pub- 
lishers politely regret that the second edition has. been somewhat 
slower in sale than any previous work of the author's ; alto- 
gether, Herman is compelled to confess that the book is a 

He drops in upon Myra on Sunday evening. Yesterday's 
C?n*or lies open on her reading-desk, and that expressive face of 
hers wears an indignant look. It changes at sight of him to a 
tender sympathy ; she comes to him without a word and takes 
his hand affectionately, as if he had just lost some one very dear 
to him. The ridiculous element in the position strikes him 
sharply — despite the actual pain which has attended his disap- 

"You were a true prophet, yon see, Myra. The critics condemn 
my book. I see you have been reading the Censor.' 1 '' 

There is something else which he sees — traces of tears 
around the dark eyes— angry tears which she has wiped away 
hastily at his entrance. 

" It is infamous — unjust — malignant ! " 

"Malignant? Not the least in the world. If I were to meet 
the writer to-morrow, we should be bosom friends. But the 
Censor is nothing without slashing criticism. I am sorry to say 
the book is a failure — even an adverse review won't help it. 
But, as I told you before, a book written is so much labour done 
— the worker must be the better for it." 

''Your book is lovely — I have read and cried over it — good, 
true, pure, noble ! Herman, if you knew how I feel my in- 
justice to you ! " • 

One thing he does know — that they are getting upon danger- 
ous ground. Myra is more excited than he has ever seen her, 
even on the opening night of the season, when the fortunes of 
the new theatre were at stake. Hectic spots burn in her cheeks 
— the dark hazel eyes are feverishly bright. 

"It is kind and friendly of you to take this matter to heart," 
he replies in his calmest tones ; " but, believe me, you distress 
yourself needlessly." 

"Kind and friendly! How can you talk of kindness and 
friendliness from me tD you ! Herman, do you think I have 
forgotten ? Can you have so utterly forgotten on your part as to 
b"!Lve it possible for mo to forget V " with passionate tears. " I 
threw away your love when it was verily mine — foolish — 
ignorant of my own heart. Herman, Can it never be mine 
again V can the dear old days never come back? I was little 
more than a child when I wronged you, and had but a child's 

92 Hostages to Fortune. 

knowledge of your worth. I am a woman now, educated by 
sorrow; and my love for you — my knowledge of you — has 
grown with my growth. Can I never win back what I lost ? Am 
1 so worthless a creature, I whom the world praises, that my 
penitence and my love count for nothing with you, Herman V " 
she asks with piteous pleading. 

Five minutes ago, and, to herself, this confession would have 
seemed of all things the most impossible. The words have burst 
from her in a little gust of passion, sudden as a stormy blast 
rushing in at a rashly-opened casement. She turns from Her- 
man, after that last question, stricken with shame, and bows 
her head upon the mantelpiece, hiding the crimson of her tearful 

He approaches her, takes her hand in his, ever so gently, and 
with gravest tenderness replies : 

" My dear, the age of miracles is past, and in our days the 
dead do not come back to life. I shall 1)3 your friend always, 
Myra ; your lover never again." 


" 0, fair is Love's first hope to gentle mina, 

As Eve's first star through fliecv cloudlet reeling; 
And sweeter than the gentle south-west wind, 

O'er willowy meads and shawdow'd waters creeping, 
And Ceres' golden fields I " 

In the first flush of publication, before the Censor and the rest 
of the literary journals had issued the fiat of critical opinion, 
Herman had sent a copy of His Last Love to Squire Morcombc 
of Lochwithian, with a polite note, in which he modestly hinted 
that if the ladies of the household would deign to read his 
book, such condescension on their part would afford him infinite 

The novel has been published a month, and the author has had 
the satisfaction of reading criticism pitched in every key, from 
the C sharp minor of reprobation to the gentle E flat major of 
mild approval, when among his letters one morning he finds 
a thick packet, with the Lochwithian postmark and the mono- 
gram K. M. 

Hostages to Fortune. 93 

It is from Ruth ; a long letter, praising his book as no one has 
praised it yet, with praise that comes from perfect under- 
standing of the writer's intention, perfect sympathy with the 
writer's mind. 

" We have shed many tears over your pages," writes MissMor- 
combe — and that little word we is very precious to Herman. 
'■ We feci as if this book has made you indeed our friend. All 
that was harsh and cynical, all that had a false ring in your 
former works — pray forgive me if I am too candid — is absent 
here. The heart of the writer throbs in every page, and it is a 
noble heart. The book is full of life and truth and earnestness 
and faith in good things ; and I have no power to judge of books 
or men if it is not ultimately the most popular of all your stories 
and that to which you will owe enduring fame." 

" Let the Censor go hang ! " cries Herman, moved to enthu- 
siasm by a woman's letter, written from a sick-room. " One true 
woman's heart has been moved by my book — one pure mind has 
recognised its worth." 

He reads and re-reads the letter. It contains not a word about 
the Lochwithian Extension — not a hint of Editha's visit to 
London. The railway people may have changed their minds, 
may have deferred their petition indefinitely. He is sorely dis- 

" Come what may, I shall go down to Llandrysak in July," he 
thinks, " and drink the waters and be made whole. Orpheus 
braved the burning blasts of Tartarus in quest of his love, 
and shall I shrink from imbibing a few pails of sulphur- 

And then — what then? It is not to be supposed that he, 
Herman Westray, a man of the world, a student of human 
nature, an anatomiser of other people's passions, a tranquil 
spectator of the great life drama — it is surely not to be supposed 
that he has fallen in love with a girl whom he has seen just four 
times, and whose education, principles, surroundings, are in every 
respect different from his own. No, Herman hardly believes 
himself in love with Editha Morcombe, but he is fain to confess 
that he is interested in her — ay, with something more than a 
mere artistic interest — that she is something more to him than a 
lay figure. He has thought of her, he has wondered about her 
not a little in the days and nights that have gone by since he 
last saw her, and has even speculated upon the possibility that 
they two may not be, after all, so unsuited to each other as he 
had first believed, and so strenuously asserted to Dewrance. 

He lives his life as of old — dines at his club and at other men's 
clubs, goes to theatres and parties, flirts occasionally with a 

91 Hostages to Fortune. 

graceful languor, says clever things, or is supposed to say thsm, 
begins another story, writes the first act of a comedy for Mrs. 
Brandreth, whose house he has avoided since that Sunday even- 
ing when she rashly lifted the curtain of the past, though he 
sees her occasionally behind the scenes at the Frivolity. 

Although he does not forget Editha Morcombe, although she 
is often in his thoughts, her image is hardly a disturbing influence 
as yet. The shaft has not pierced deep enough for that. And 
thus time slips gently by till the first Monday in May, when 
Herman Westray goes to the Eoyal Academy to see the people and 
hear the public verdict on the pictures. These he has seen 
before — some on the easels of the painters, all at the private view. 
Here, in the crowd and the heat and the Babel of voices — 
not loud, but multitudinous — he comes suddenly upon some one 
whom he feels curiously pleased to meet. 

Mr. Dewrance stands opposite a landscape of Linnell's, ex- 
pounding its beauties in that loud distinct pulpit voice of his, to 
three young women and a showily-bonneted matron, all evidently 
under his wing. 

"Observe the hazy yellow atmosphere — positively steeped in 
light," he exclaims. 

" Rather like the neighbourhood of Llandrysak" says Herman, 
laying his hand upon the Curate's shoulder. 

"Too much corn for Radnorshire — How d'ye do, Westray? 
Thought I knew the voice. ' What do you think of the pictures 
this year? Rather below par, eh? They paint too much, these 

" Rubens painted too much ; so would any man if he could get 
a thousand pounds for every square yard of canvas he could 
cover. I think the pictures are pretty much as usual : manipula- 
tion in most cases good ; subjects in many cases weak ; ideas 
repetitive of last year, the year before that, and backwards to the 
days of Somerset House." 

" Let me introduce you tQ my friends. Mr. Westray — Mrs. 
Peacock Smith, Miss Peacock Smith, Miss Cordelia, Miss Beatrice 
Smith, from New York." 

The three young ladies survey Herman with wondering en- 
thusiasm, pleased to discover that his clothes and boots are like 
those of other people, and that he bends himself to the usages 
of society so far as to have his hair cut. 

" 1 wish he'd say something satirical," whispers the fair 
Cordelia to her elder sister. 

" He's one of the authors we wanted to see," replies Miss 
Smith in the same undertone ; " but I don't think his looks are up to 
the standard of his works." 

Hostages to Fortune. 95 

"Where are you anil what are yon doing, Dewranco? " asks 
Herman. " I heard you were somewhere in the south oil France." 

•' Only came back in April ; wintered in the shelter of the 
Pvrenees. Plenty of nice people — found myself quite absurdly 
popular. I am first curate at a new church in Bayswater, St. 
.hinuarius. Perhaps you know it — a very beautiful specimen of 
tiie flamboyant style, and fashionably attended. The church is 
filled daily at our matin service, and our collections are the largest 
in the parish. When will you come and dine with me ? I have 
rooms in Bolivia-gardens, near the church." 

" I'll tell you that when you dine with me. You ought to have 
come to see me directly you established yourself in London." 

" I have been intending to come, but my duties arc so ab- 

"Naturally, with a fashionable congregation. Those duties 
include a good deal of dining out, to say nothing of kettledrums 
and friendly luncheons. As if I didn't know you, Dewrance." 

The Curate grins. The Peacock Smiths gaze at Herman with 
eyes enlarged by wonder, surprised that any one should venture 
to address a popular pastor in so mundane a tone. 

" Come and breakfast with me to-morrow," says Herman by 
and by, after having performed a little small talk with the Hiss 
Smiths, who exclaim, " How lovely ! " " How sweet ! " at every 
second canvas they see, and are deeply interested in the five 
different Ophelias which, more or less drowning, grace the walls 
of the Academy and impart a sense of damp and depression to 
the exhibition. 

" After matins ? " inquires Dewrance. 

" Of course — say ten o'clock ; and we can talk of our friends 
in Wales. By the way, have you heard from the Loehwithian 
people lately ? " 

" I dined with them the day before yesterday." 

"In London?" 

"Yes. They have taken apartments in Lima-crescent, near 
me— or rather^ I should say, I took the rooms for them, the 
Squire having intrusted me with the selection." 

'• Have they been in town long? " asks Herman with a mortified 

" Not more than a week, I think. Mr. Morcombe was talking 
of calling on you." 

" He is very good," says Herman, who finds it bitter that Dew- 
rance should have been preferred to him. Yet the preference is but 
natural, Dewrance being the older friend. 

Mr. Morcombe leaves his card at Mr. Westray's chambers 
three days later, having most likely received a reminder from the 

96 Hostages to Fortune. 

Curate, Herman thinks, wij:h a twinge of vexation. The young 
man is out when the Squire calls ; but he presents himself at 
Lima-crescent next day, and is fortunate enough to find Editha at 

She has come to town under the wing of a middle-aged 
cousin, a clergyman's widow, and altogether a prosperous com- 
fortable personage, with a large appetite for small pleasures — a 
lady who has been buried alive in a remote Welsh parish during 
the brightest years of womanhood, and who is glad to make the 
most of her decline. Not a wrinkle has Time written on Mrs. 
Evan Williams's placid brow, nor has that avenger thinned her 
brown hair. Middle age has come upon her gently, with gradual 
increase of bulk and a subsidiary chin or two. She carries about 
her, as it were, an atmosphere of the country, wears her watch 
conspicuously displayed below her waistband, and a handsome 
silk gown, which is new as to material, but ten years old as to 

Editha's bright look is full of welcome, Herman thinks, as she 
turns from the ferncase in the window and comes forward to 
receive him. 

" I thought you would come to see us," she says ; and then 
introduces him to " my cousin, Mrs. Williams," whom she ad- 
dresses presently as Juliana ; whereat the fair Juliana becomes 
immediately upon intimate terms with Mr. Westray, and goes 
into raptures about his books. 

" Editha has them all ; and when I stay at the Priory I get 
her to lend them to me. I have sat up ever so late, night after 
night, reading them ; and now to think of seeing the writer ! It 
does seem so extraordinary. Of course I always knew they 
must be written by somebody, but I never thought it would be 
my fate to meet him." 

Such a simple-minded chaperon as this is the next best thing 
to no chaperon at all, Herman thinks, and he and Editha talk as 
freely as if they were alone — talk of Euth and Wales ; of Mr. 
Petherick and his flock ; of literature, art, music, all things dear 
to both ; Editha making friendly little appeals to Juliana every 
now and then, lest that comfortable matron should fancy herself 
excluded from their talk. In the course of conversation Mrs. 
Williams makes numerous inquiries about theatres and popular 
concerts, and it appears to Herman that she is thirsting for 
amusement of the dramatic and musical kind ; whereupon he 
hastens to promise private boxes for fashionable theatres and 
tickets for ballad concerts. 

" I do love English ballads," exclaims the matron, " though I'm 
afraid I can't claim to be as musical as the rest of my nation ; 

Hostages to Fortune.. 97 

for when it comes to chamber-music, and a symphony that lasts 
a quarter of an hour, I must say I feel myself out of place, and 
often in the minor passages I'm on tenter-hooks, thinking that 
the performers are all going wrong. So give me a simple ballad, 
and the words pronounced so that I can hear them ; and then 
I know where I am and what I am called upon to admire." 

" You like the theatres, Miss Morcombe ? " inquires Herman, 
after politely sympathising with Mrs. Williams on the chamber- 
music question. 

" I expect to be delighted ; but we have been to no theatre 
yet. Papa took us to the Opera last night, and that was more 
exquisite than I have ever fancied it in my dreams.'^ 

" You would like to see some of the theatres ? " 

" Very much ; I am particularly anxious to see your comedy 
at the Frivolity." 

Easter is past, but Hemlock has not yet been taken out of the 

" Would you really like to see it ? " exclaims Herman, delighted. 
" Will you go to-night ? I can always get a box ; I'll go to 
the nearest office and telegraph for a good one, if you'll say yes." 

Editha hesitates. " I don't know what engagements papa may 
have for to-night," she says. 

" Indeed, my dear Editha, your papa's engagements need not 
prevent our going," exclaims Mrs. Williams. " Am I not here 
to take you about? Did not the Squire expressly say that we are 
to enjoy ourselves without reference to his occupations ? And 
indeed he is very much occupied about this Pen-y-craig Exten- 
sion, and has to dine out a great deal ; for it seems that these 
public works hinge upon private dining. Did he not say that 
we could go anywhere we liked this evening with Mr. Hethe- 
ridge ? " 

Editha blushes furiously. 

" Hetheridge ! " cries Herman, reddening as vividly. " Is Mr. 
Hetheridge in London ?" 

" Yes, he is here for the season," replies Mrs. Williams. " You 
know him, do you, Mr. Westray ? Isn't he nice ? " 

" If I had ever been able to arrive at the exact meaning ladies 
attach to that adjective, I could give you a categorical answer. 
Honestly, I have seen too little of Mr. Hetheridge to express an 
opinion about him." 

"Come, Editha, why should we not accept Mr. Westray's 
kind offer?" asks Mrs. Williams. "Mr. Hetheridge is to dine 
with us this evening. If Mr. Westray would join us at dinner, 
we could all go to the Frivolity together. I suppose a box would 
hold four?" 

08 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Certainly," says Herman, thinking of those snug little satin- 
lined boxes, and how closely he will have to bend over Editlia's 
chair all the evening. " I accept your kind invitation with plr a- 
sure, Mrs. Williams, and I'll go and despatch my telegram directly, 
dress, and return here." 

" At seven. Will that be early enough, by the bye ? " 

"Quite, if you want only to see my piece. It begins at half- 
past eight." 

Editha makes no further objections to the plan, and Herman 
departs, foolishly happy for so slight a reason. He is back again 
in Lima-crescent at a quarter to seven, and finds Mr. Hetheridge 
installed. That gentleman is sitting next to Editha, and talking 
to her in an undertone, as she bends over her point-lace, but 
the conversation does not appear particularly lively. 

The young landowner is surprised, and not agreeably, at the 
entrance of Mr. Westray, and the two men glower at each other 
as they exchange greetings. 

"Hang the fellow, what is he doing here?" thinks Vivian 
Hetheridge, unaware until this moment of the pleasure that 
awaited him. 

" Mr. Westray has kindly suggested that we shall all go to the 
Frivolity Theatre this evening," says Mrs. Williams, who begins 
dimly to divine that she has done hardly a wise thing in inviting 
Herman. Every one at Lochwithian wishes Editha to many 
Mr. Hetheridge ; nay, it is an understood thing that she is to 
marry him — that it is for her ultimate good here and hereafter 
to be Mrs. Hetheridge of Hetheridge Park, and that any capri- 
cious objections of her own are to be overruled by the powers 
that be. Mr. Morcombe has bidden his daughter and her cousin 
to amuse themselves, to extract all the pleasure they can from a 
month or six weeks in London ; but he has imagined that the 
companion of their pleasures, their escort, their guide, would 
be none other than Vivian Hetheridge, who is supposed to be, for 
two or three months in the year, a man about town. 

Mrs. Williams is quick to see that there is something more 
than common courtesy in Herman's attention, that there are 
germs of jealousy sprouting in the hotbed of Vivian's heart, and 
that, in a general way, she has made a mistake. But being by 
nature a lively matron, and by long suppression of that natural 
liveliness made livelier, she does not abandon herself to affliction, 
but enjoys herself so thoroughly as to impart a sense of enjoy- 
ment to others. 

It is the pleasantest little dinner-party in the world. The 
Squire has come home only to dress, and gone forth again to dine, 
too hurried to hear the plans of his womankind. The two young 

JIoxhKjes to ForU::ie, 99 

men frighten wonderfully at llio dimicr-talilc, Imt Herman ha;; 
in cvciv way I lie best of it. lie knows so much — can talk of so 
much— ha* ideas of his own which, if of no great intrinsic worth, 
have at least the charm of novelty, just as some modern inven- 
tion — Abyssinian, Peruvian, or Zanzibar gold — sparkles prettily 
it r the moment, though but basest metal. Editha is gaiety 
itself. No trace of the serious young woman here, thinks Her- 
nia;), and anon reflects that seriousness with her is so gracious a 
qnaihv, that she is loveliest when most earnest. They talk a 
go, a! <hal of Wales, and Herman is almost sentimental in' bis 
n ilVctionate recollection of the scenery; as if Eadnorshiro had 
been the cradle of his infancy. 

Mr. lletheridge is not enthusiastic about the evening's enter- 

" Yes, I've seen it," he says ; "pretty theatre, very bright and 
lively, clever acting, and so on. Don't care much for the 
piece.' Mrs. Williams frowns at him. " 0, quite correct, yon 
know, and all that, but not much in it ; wants go ; too classical 
for my taste." 

" I am sorry I did not hit upon the exact style of thing you 
can appreciate," says Herman, with the air of a Morllake 
market-gardener, who has been told that a predatory ass does 
not admire the flavour of his asparagus. " I'll try my best next 

'• What, is it your play ? " exclaims Mr. Hetheridge. 

" Didn't you know ? " asks Editha, laughing at her admirer's 
confusion. i 

" No ; I never look to see who writes the plays. I thought ' 
tliev were most of 'em sent over from France, and translated by 
cle.hs in Somerset House." 

The Frivolity is looking its brightest when the two ladies and 
thur escorts enter their box— Editha in palest gray silk, that 
sliadov.-y tint she so much affects, with rare old lace ruffles, a 
crinson rose in her hair, and a loosely-tied crimson sash ; alto- 
gether more like a portrait by Gainsborough than a fashionable 
young lady. She is delighted with the pretty little theatre, which 
contrasts pleasantly with the grandeur of Covent Garden, the 
only other playhouse she has seen. 

She rests her round white arm, half veiled by the Malines 
ruiiie, on the violet cushion, and fixes her eyes on the stage with 
that absorbed attention only known among provincial playgoers. 
The curtain has risen ; she listens attentively ; and Herman, 
standing behind her chair, feels as if all the audiences who have 
seen arid applauded his play were as nothing compared with this 
one ■ , !ieet;t;or. 

100 Hostages to Fortune. 

Presently Mrs. Brandreth enters as Helena the slave. She 
slowly unveils, while the audience applaud, and those swift dark 
eyes of hers glance round the house. She sees Herman standing 
hehind Editha's chair — sees him, and one little agitated move- 
ment of the hand which lifts her veil indicates that she has seen 

She is at her best from that moment ; every nerve braced like 
those of the gladiator who knows that the greatness of Rome is 
watching him. More than once in the course of the play the 
keen dark eyes glance at Herman's box, and mark the fair fresh- 
ness of the provincial beauty, the bright happy expression, so 
intent, so earnest, so curiously different from the faded languid 
look of a soul that has squandered its inheritance of joy. 

" I never was like that," Myra says to herself. " I was too 
ambitious to be happy." 

She looks back at her youth, and remembers that it was a rest- 
less desire for something better and brighter than youth's simple 
pleasures. Looks back, and remembers the days when Herman 
loved her, and when the glory of his love was nothing to her in 
the vivid light of those ambitious dreams. Fame has come to 
her, but love is lost. And now fame seems small and worthless 
measured against the infinite sweetness of that vanished love. 

She stands at the wing — unseen, and gazes her fill at Editha. 
The nobility of the girl's face impresses her, just as it impressed 
Herman at the Eisteddfod. Who is she ? Some mere acquaint- 
ance of the hour, perhaps, to whom it is necessary for Herman 
to be civil. Yet how he bends over her chair ; what a tender 
look steals over his countenance as he stoops to hear her half- 
whispered praise of the acting or the play ! 

Myra Brandreth turns from the sight sick at heart. She has 
not yet taught herself to despair of winning him again, despite 
those calm deliberate words which pronounced the doom of a 
dead love. She trusts in the praises of others, an ever widening 
renown, new and striking achievements in her art, to charm the 
dead love to life. She will not admit to herself that she has 
failed. He is proud ; he is resentful ; but in his inmost heart the 
old love lives yet. The sight of this fair strange face has kindled 
a fire in her breast. She acts with a force which is new even to 

" How natural, how wonderful she is ! " whispers Editha, tears 
shining in her soft gray eyes. 

" By Heaven she is a great creature ! " exclaims Herman as the 
curtain falls. " She surpasses herself. She is all force and 
passion and feeling ; all fire and light. I feel as if I had been 
watching a disembodied spirit — genius divorced from clay." 

Hostages to Fortune. 101 


" 5. ul, il marchait tout nu dans cette masearado 
Q i'oii appelle la vie, en y parlant tout haut. 

Tel que la robe d'or du jcune Alcibiade, 

Soa orgueil indolent, du palais au ruisseau, 

Trainait derriere lui comme un royal manteau." 

"We.vkily Mrs. Brandreth returns to the greenroom wnen the 
piece is over. Lord Earlswood is lounging against the chimney- 
piece, talking to a gentleman in evening dress with his opera- 
hat under his arm. His lordship has the privilege of admission 
to the greenroom of his own building, and takes upon himself 
the farther license of bringing a friend with him on occasions, 
a liberty which Mrs. Brandreth disapproves. 

This gentleman in the faultless evening dress — lapels of coat 
and waistcoat in the very last fashion prescribed by Savile-row 
— with a pink diamond solitaire clasping his narrow collar, and 
no other jewelry whatsoever, is a man tolerably well known at 
the Frivolity and at other West-end theatres ; a man whose 
entrance to the stalls is generally chronicled by the confidential 
whisper of his name among the well informed of the audience. 

This gentleman is Hamilton Lyndhurst, stockbroker and mil- 
lionaire ; a man who has owned newspapers, and racehorses, and 
prize yachts, and a theatre or two, and a fashionable chapel, and 
a railway, and a diamond mine, and could, in a general way, buy 
up the nation, if that little lot were to come into the market ; a 
man who, in the old imperial days of Eome's decadence, would 
have made a bid for the empire, and gilded his horses' oats and 
imported oysters from Britain, and diverted the course of the 
public aqueducts to water his gardens. 

He is a large lazy-looking man, with a tendency to loll against 
any convenient angle, to lean over the back of a chair or attach 
himself diagonally to a mantelpiece, rather than sustain himself 
in an upright position of his own unaided strength. The young 
men at one of his clubs call him the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 
He has been handsome, is so still even, at five-and-forty, in a 
large and massive style. He is popular, and has numerous 
admirers — first, among the people who worship wealth ; and 
next, among those who admire iniquity on a grandiose scale. 
Hamilton Lyndhurst rejoices in one of the worst reputations ever 
bestowed upon a man who has not actually outraged the criminal 
code of his country. How far he is worthy of his reputation, or 
how much better than his reputation, is a question that he alono 

102 Hostages to Fortune. 

could answer, and, as lie glories in his evil reno'.vn, it is a ques- 
tion likely to remain unanswered. He is no smooth-faced 
hypocrite, and has at least the merit of never having pretended 
to be virtuous. His theory is that there is no virtue in the world, 
except on the lips of those dependent wretches who cannot afford 
to avow their real sentiments ; a Philistine crew, who keep up 
their pretence of righteousness as part of their stock in-trade, 
who practise the rites and ceremonies of a religion they secretly 
despise, and preach a code of morality against which their in- 
ward natures are in perpetual revolt. Religion, morality, domestic 
affection, manly honour, womanly virtue, are, in his mind, so 
many compromises which dependence makes with the world. 

" If you could ail get sixty per cent, for your money, we 
should hear less of church-going and the rest of your twaddle," 
he says with conviction. 

He is unmarried, and his most intimate associates have never 
heard of any creature of his kin who depends upon him, or is 
aided or befriended by him. Brother or sister, nephew or niece, 
cousin or hanger-on, he has none. He is as solitary as Lucifer 
after his fall, and, as Lucifer, stands like a tower, and requires 
neither sympathy nor companionship. Even the parasites who 
hang upon the wealthy have no hold upon him. He gives break- 
fasts and dinners and Slippers at his chilis or at public restau- 
rants, and has his favourite companions, whom he changes almost 
as often as his gloves ; passing the boon companion of last season 
with a careless nod this year, and hearing of an ancient crony's 
death with about as much emotion as the Regent Orleans dis- 
played at the decease of his dear friend and tutor, Dubois. He 
is not unsocial in his habits, but his sociality is all out of doors. 
Within his gates his intimates have never passed. He has a 
house in the neighbourhood of Parson's-green ; large, gloomy, 
shut in by high walls, bordering upon market-gardens, and in a 
region where autumn fogs are densest and linger longest. Wild 
are the imaginings with which active minds have indulged them- 
selves about this house; its Oriental splendour, its more than 
Roman iniquity. Graphic and full of detail are the stories which 
are related of Saturnalia and Eleusinian mysteries held within 
those walls ; but as none of the story-tellers have ever seen the 
marvels they describe so vividly, the basis of their statement is 
somewhat unsubstantial. 

The butcher and the baker go in and out, with their neat little 

carts and clever ponies, as freely and cheerfully as to other 

houses ; and if questioned about this modern temple of Eleusis, 

ave no more to say than that Mr. Lyndhurst is quite the gentle- 

an in the matter of paying his bills, and not " worritting about 

Hostages to Fortune. 103 

a ticket with cvciy blessed pound of steak, as some people calling 
theirselves gentlefolks do." 

Mr. Lyndhurst is more or less " in society ; " that is to say, he 
is invited to a great many parties in the season, to which h 

!>■( K'S 

or does not go, as the fancy of the moment prompts ; but the 
crim* <le la crcmr, the desalts du panicr, know very little of Mr. 
Lyndhurst, or only have him pointed out to them in the Park as 
a man who drives a seven-hundred-guinca pair of horses — chest- 
nut steppers, seventeen hands high — and has made no end of 
money — somehow. Some of Mr. Lyndhurst's acquaintance call 
these bright chestnut beasts Shadracli and Meshach, because they 
look as if they had just come out of the burning fiery furnace 
which Nebuchadnezzar ordered for those offenders. Indeed, Mr. 
Lyndhurst and his horses have a somewhat diabolical look ; and 
if Mephistopheles were permitted to drive a mail phaeton with 
brass-mounted harness, one could fancy his earthly semblance 
not unlike that of Hamilton Lyndhurst. 

Country houses, and those social gatherings, where a man 
becomes a domestic animal, unfolds himself, and reveals his 
idiosyncrasies, pleasing or unpleasing, Mr. Lyndhurst does not 
affect. He is never met hanging-up holly in ancient halls or 
kissing port]) 7 ' matrons under the mistletoe. Feminine society is 
his broadly-declared aversion, and except the one woman he 
happens to be pursuing for the time being — as Faust followed 
Gretchen, and without need of evil promptings from the em- 
bodied evil at Faust's elbow — the sex has no existence for him. 

Yet although he avows his sentiments upon all subjects with a 
praiseworthy candour, and is proud to confess himself an infidel 
and a profligate, there are circles in which he is not only tolerated 
but welcomed ; mothers who would give him one of their 
daughters to-morrow with a generous confidence in his latent 
nobility, and a pious belief in the time-honoured maxim "that a 
reformed rake is the best of husbands. 

Lord Earlswood and Hamilton Lyndhurst have been cronies 
for the last two or three seasons, and his lordship's downward 
career may be said to have taken its fatal dip during this time. 
Earlswood, the weaker vessel, finds much to admire in the 
splendid iniquity of his acquaintance. That utter casting-off of 
moral restraint, which Lyndhurst calls getting rid of pre- 
judice and compromise, has a fascination for the feebler sinner. 
Lyndhurst has a knack of expressing himself which, with his 
own particular set, passes for wit. No masculine dinner-table is 
dull when he is seated at it ; no smoking-room conversation 
lacks vivacity when he is present. Earlswood, who has very 
little to say for himself, and rarely starts an opinion, admires and 

104 Hostages to Fortune. 

envies this gift of utterance. He likes, too, to associate with a 
man who is never likely to want anything from him, and the 
knowledge of Lyndhurst's wealth gives him a sense of security. 

" A fellow who can he amusing without winding up by asking 
one to back his bill," says his lordship in praise of the stock- 

It was Lyndlmrst who suggested the building of the Frivolity. 
Having originated the idea, he naturally considers the theatre 
open to him as an agreeable lounge. He affects not to see that 
his presence is unwelcome to Mrs. Brandreth ; brings her 
bouquets and rare orchids and ferns for her Bloomsbury draw- 
ing-room — he has tried bracelets, but these have been rejected — 
and does his best to be on good terms with her ; in return for 
which attention she is coldly civil to him. 

" Where did Westray pick up that lovely girl with the red rose 
in her hair ? " asks 'Sir. Lyndlmrst, after he has shaken hands with 
Mrs. Brandreth, who sinks on the ottoman exhausted, and with 
an inward trembling, as of one who has passed through some 
ordeal of flesh and spirit bitter as the pains of death. It is Mr. 
Lyndhurst's manner to speak of women as if they were weeds 
growing by the wayside ; a stray wild-flower here and there to 
be gathered for its prettiness or perfume, the rest left to unla- 
mented decay. 

" Don't know, I'm shaw," replies Lord Earlswood ; " not a bad- 
looking girl." 

"Not bad-looking! "Why, man, she's superb. The hand- 
somest woman I've seen for a year, with the usual exception in 
favour of present company," adds Mr. Lyndlmrst, turning to Mrs. 
Brandreth with a smile which some experience of her sex has 
taught him to consider irresistible. 

" Pray put me out of the question," says Myra coldly ; " I 
belong to the past." 

" Do you know that lady in the box, Mrs. Brandreth p " 

" Not in the least. Some country cousin of Mr. Westray 's, I 
should think, from her attention to the performance. Yet I 
never heard of any cousin of his." 

" And you have known him long, I believe." 

" We were children together." 

" What does it matter who the lady is, Lyndhurst ? " says Lord 
Earlswood. " Whoever she is, she is not your style." 

" Who taught you to know my style ? " 

"Well — er — judging by the women I've seen you admire," 
falters his lordship, embarrassed by the curt inquiry. 

" If I wear a rosebud in my coat to-day, is that any reason I 
should not prefer »■ ];Ut " f f ho vallov tn-mm-rnw ? " asks Hamilton 

Hostages to Fortune. 103 

Lyndhnrst. "Willi regard to the lady we saw to-night, I took 
particular notice of her simply because she is the handsomest 
woman I have seen for a long time, and I wondered how Mr. 
Westray came by her. My interest in the lady begins and ends 
at that point." 

" You know Westray ? " suggests Lord Earlswood. 

" Yes, I meet him occasionally in society ; and he belongs to 
one of my clubs — the Junior Thespians. Not a bad sort of 
fellow, but with an overweening opinion of himself." 

" Literary men always have," remarks his lordship, with placid 
conviction. " That's how it is they never save money. They 
think their candle is going to burn for ever ; and some day it 
goes out with a sudden puff, and leaves them paupers." 

" As I happen to know Mr. Westray much better than either of 
you, permit me to say that he has not an exaggerated opinion of 
his own merits," observes Myra. "He is too much an artist to 
be conceited." 

'• Kaffaelle was a very fair painter," remarks Hamilton Lynd- 
hurst ; "but tradition informs us that he was an ineffable snob." 

" You had better be careful how you talk of Westray, Lynd- 
hurst," says Lord Earlswood. " He is a favourite here." 

" He has reason to be," replies Myra, gathering up the loose 
white cloak which she wears at the wing and rising to retire to 
her dressing-room, "for his talent has made your theatre." 

" 1'shaw ! a mere adaptation, which a dozen men about London 
could have done as well as he." 

" I don't think there are a dozen men who can write better 
than Emile Augier, and Mr. Westray's comedy is better than 
Augier's." answers Myra ; and then bids the two gentlemen good- 
night with a final tone which means that they are not to linger 
in the hope of escorting her to her carriage. 

" Considering the money you've spent upon this place, she's 
not particularly civil," observes Mr. Lyndhurst, as the door closes 
on Mrs. Brandrcth. " Another woman would at least pretend to 
be grateful." 

" I don't want pretences ; and Mrs. Brandreth is not like other 
women," answers his lordship sulkily. "Are you coming to the 
club for a rubber? " 

'• Xo ; I am due at two or three places. I forget half the 
parties I'm asked to ; but I make a round now and then, just to 
see what's going on." 

"I hate parties," says Lord Earlswood. "I think I shall go 
round and see the burlesque. I've seen it three-and-twenty 
times ; but it rather improves on acquaintance ; the jokes get a 
mellow flavour, and one knows when they're coming, which is 

106 Hostages to Fortune. 

always an advantage. I believe that's why people like the 
School for Scandal ; they know when they ought to laugh." 

His lordship lets himself through his own particular door and 
into his own particular box ; Hamilton Lyndhurst retires to the 
lobby to watch the departures, lying in wait for Mr. Westray's 
unknown beauty. 

She comes at last, leaning on Herman's arm, tranquil as a 
cloudless summer morning, and with that happy look of an un- 
shadowed life which strikes deep to the hearts of worldlings. 
They have to wait for the carriage, and Hamilton Lyndhurst 
seizes upon Herman and shakes hands with effusion. 

" Where have you been hiding yourself, Westray ? I haven't 
seen you for an age ; and I want you to join my party for the 
Derby. You disappointed me last year, you know. Kather too 
bad ! " 

" What a delightful man ! " thinks Mrs. Williams, awed by Mr. 
Lyndhurst's bulky splendour, his dark eyes, large pale face, and 
carefully-trained black whiskers. 

" You're very kind. I. can't pledge myself for the Derby yet a 
while. You'd better not keep a place for me." 

" Mr. Murrain's carriage ! " cries the waterman. 

" Good-night," 

Herman and his charge pass out through the swinging crimson 
doors, Mrs. Williams and Mr. Hetheridge follow, and Hamilton 
Lyndhurst has gained no more than a nearer view of the un- 
known beauty, and the knowledge that her name, or her people's 
name, is something that watermen can make into Murcuni. 

" Who is she ? " he wonders. " Not his fiancee. They were 
on too ceremonious terms. Respectable, without doubt ; rural 
respectability was written in every fold of the elder lady's gar- 
ments. I saw the carriage — only a hired brougham; no mis- 
taking the coachman's drab overcoat. Ergo, that lovely girl is a 
respectable nobody, whom Westray wants to marry. Quite out of 
my line, Earlswood says. I am not so sure about that. Upon 
my soul, I don't know but that such a girl as that might tempt 
me to give the lie to all my previous life, and go in for marriage 
and respectability ; slip the cable of the past, ojjen my house to 
society, and get a seat in Parliament. There may be worse 
turns of the wheel than that in the whirligig of life. I shouldn't 
object to respectability and the orthodox dinner-table — the palla- 
dium of British virtue — if I could find a woman handsome enough 
to make other men envious, and clever enough to keep me in 
good humour.'' 

A little later, and Mrs. Brandreth sits before her dressing- 
table, looking at her haggard face in the glass. She has changed 

Ilostajes to Fortune. 107 

her stage costurse for a fawn-coloured cashmere gown, made 
with puritan simplicity ; she has washed off paint and powder 
and artistic darkening of the arched brows, and looks ten years 
older than the Helena of the play. Kigid and pale and drawn 
looks the small face, with its delicate sharply-cut features — a 
face that will age soon assuredly ; dark and gloomy is the fixed 
gaze of the large hazel eyes, staring into the dimly-lighted glass, 
and seeing nothing. 

" God keep him from loving any one else !"she whispers, as if 
t© some listening spirit. " My hatred would be fatal to her." 


i: Oftmals hab' ich geirrt und habe mich wieder gefunden, 
Aber glileklicher nie ; nun ist diess Madclien mein Gliick ! 
1st auch die es ein Irrthum, so schont mich ihr klilgeren G otter, 
Und benehmt n ir ihn erst diiiben am kalten Gestad'." 

" She did not weep, 
But o'er her meek e)'es came a happy mist, 
Like that which kept the heart of Kden green 
Before tiie useful trouble of the rain." 

In most lives there comes an Indian summer. Five years, ago 
Herman AYestray's favourite complaint was that he had lived his 
life'; that dreams and desires and hope, and even ambition, had 
ciime to an end for him ; that he had no expectation of ever 
doing better work, or winning wider renown, or being in any 
wise better or happier for the passage of the coming years. 
To-day he feels as if life were, beginning again, as if the gates of 
a new world had opened to him. In a word, he„ is in love — in 
love with a good woman, in whose faith and constancy he has 
no shadow of doubt. 

Mr. Morcombe is very busy in one way and another, or affects 
to be very busy ; and is rarely to be found at Lima-crescent 
between breakfast and dinner — not often in the evening. Mrs. 
Williams does her best to encourage Vivian Hetheridge, whom 
the considers the proper person for Edith a to many ; but she 
does not discourage Herman Westray, from whom ilows a peren- 
nial stream of theatre, concert, and picture-gallery tickets, and 

108 Hostages to Fortune. 

-.vliose society she infinitely prefers to the young Squire's rather 
heavy company. Vivian is apt to be sulky, and is fitful in his 
visits ; now calling every day, and sitting for an hour or so 
gloomy as the statue in Don Giovanni ; anon absenting himself 
for a week. Alas for unrequited love, it is ever at a disadvan- 

So Herman and Editha have their days and evenings very 
much to themselves ; kindly pleasure-loving Mrs. Williams 
counting for so little. Dewrance calls once or twice a week, and 
sees victory in Herman's manner, and has a perfect understand- 
ing of all that is going on. He is not ill-natured, and, having 
long ago accepted his own defeat, beholds Herman's success 
without rancour. 

" Be a kind and faithful husband to her, Westray," he says 
one night, when they leave Lima-crescent together, after an 
evening spent in talk and music, " and I shall never grudge you 
your happiness." 

" Kind and faithful I will be to her to the end of life," answers 
Herman; "her faithful friend, her devoted servant, if she will 
give me no higher privilege. But it is rather too early for con- 
gratulations, my deal - Dewrance. I am sure of myself, but not 
sure of her." 

" I am," replies the Curate briefly. 

" You think she likes me — a little." 

" I think you are fools both ; so blindly in love that you 
cannot see how ill-suited you are to each other ; yet you made 
a strong point of that unfitness when we talked of Miss Mor- 
combe of Llandr}'sak." 

" That was before I loved her. Love makes one bold. You 
remember what Kichard Steele said of his wife, ' To love her is 
a liberal education.' Love shall be my master, and teach me to 
be worthy of my mistress." 

" And for your sake she will throw over as good a fellow as 
ever breathed, and one of the finest estates in Denbighshire." 

" You mean Hetheridge?" says Herman indifferently. "Editha 
has too much mind to be happy with a member of the bovine 
family, a ruminating animal who never said a wise thing and 
never did a foolish one." 

Not long after this conversation Vivian Hetheridge tempts 
evil fortune by declaring his love, dimly conscious of its hope- 
lessness, but bent on telling his story, even to unwilling ears. 

He has found Editha alone, Mrs. Williams having gone to buy 
bargains in the "Grove," otherwise Westbourne, which she 
regards as a " little heaven here below " in the way of millinery. 
He has surprised Editha at her piano in the back drawing-room, 

Hostages to Fortune. 109 

brooding over one of Mendelssohn's dreamiest compositions, full 
of thought and perplexity as she plays. She has received a 
letter from Ruth this morning which has set her thinking. 

" Sorry to disturb you at your practice, Editha," says Mr. 
Hetherid^c, as they shake hands. They are friends of such 
long standing that he has acquired the right to use her Christian 

" I was not practising, and you have not disturbed me, thanks. 
I was only thinking," replies Editha", going to the open window, 
where a screen of flowers shuts out a restricted view of yard, 
cistern, wall, and mews. Vivian follows her to the window, and 
they both give their attention to the geraniums. 

'* Not thinking about anything unpleasant, I hope. You were 
looking uncommonly serious when I came in." 

" Was I ? No, my thoughts were not unpleasant. I was only 
thinking that I had been away from home a long time, and that 
I ought to go back to Kuth." 

" Poor Ruth ! Yes, she'll miss you, won't she ? Rather dull 
at the Priory for her when you are away, not being able to 
move about and take a pleasure in the stable, or the piggeries, 
or the poultry, or anything enlivening. She must miss you 

Editha answers with a sigh, ashamed to know that, dearly as 
she loves her sister, it will cost her a pang to return to Loch- 

" Yes, she must liss you," repeats Mr. Hetheridge, with an 
unpleasant tendency to harp on one string ; " and if you were to 
leave Lochwitiiian altogether, settle ever so far away — marry 
some professional or literary man, for instance, who would l.o 
obliged to spend the best part of his days in London — I should 
think it would break Ruth's heart." 

Still no answer ; Editha's face is hidden as she bends over the 
flower-pots, twisting and untwisting fragile sprays of maiden- 

" Editha, it would be- a hard thing for Ruth if you were to 
desert her — a hard thing for all of us, who have loved you faith- 
fully for years, if you were to leave us for the love of a 
stranger," says Vivian, rushing blindly to his doom ; " hardest of 
all for me. You know how I have loved you ever since I knew 
the meaning of man's love for woman. Everybody who knows 
us knows my love. It has been part of myself; the best am 
brightest half of my nature. It will be while I live. Don'* 
throw away the honest love of a lifetime for the sake of a 
stranger, Editha ; a stranger who would part you from your own 
flesh and blood, from all those poor creatures about Lochwitiiian 

110 Hostagec to Fortune. 

who love you and depend on you ; from the children 3 r ou have 
taught, from the sick you have nursed, from the heathens you 
have made into Christians. Think of Ruth, think of all of us," 
putting himself very low down among the poor of Lochwithian, 
" and pause before you let Herman Westray tempt you away 
from your home." 

" Who told you that Mr. Westray has asked me to leave my 
home ? " exclaims Editha with a flash of anger. " He never 

" What does it matter when the question comes ? It will be 
asked. He will have no scruple in taking you away from all 
who love you. He will think his love of yesterday's growth 
good enough to set against all the devotion that has ever been 
given you. Do you think he will consider Ruth's loss, or your 
father's or mine, or all the people in Lochwithian parish ? He 
wants you for himself. What are we that we should stand in 
his way ? " 

4i Vivian, it is most unfair in you to talk like this." 

" Is it ? If I held my peace much longer, should I have the 
chance of speaking to you at all upon this one subject? A few 
days later, and you would strike me dumb at the outset by telling 
me that you were Westray's promised wife. I want to have my 
innings first, though I may know the game lost ever so long ago. 
Editha, if you would only consider what you lose in caring for 
that man ! Your sweet home life, your power to do good, to 
reign over a larger parish than Lochwithian, yet live near enough 
to Lochwithian to continue to extend all the good works you 
have begun there, to make sunshine in the land. Marry me, and 
there need be no parting between you and Ruth. My home 
shall be her home, and may ruin light upon it if she is ever less 
than its most honoured inmate ! Editha, I know Ruth likes me ; 
I know that Ruth has been my friend always; and I think she 
would be glad to see my suit prosper." 

Tears are in Editha's eyes as she raises them from that mute 
contemplation of the ferns and flowers. 

" It is a pity we cannot command our hearts," she replies 
gently. " I know how good you arc, how true, how unselfish, and 
1 know how much my dear sister esteems you ; but I cannot give 
you what you ask. I cannot, even to lead a calm and happy 
life near my dear old home, even for Ruth's sake, give you love 
for love. I would not give less than you offer me — a whole 

" If you had never seen Herman Westray — " 

" If there had been no such person as Mr. Westray, my answer 
would have been the same." 

Hostages to Fortune. Ill 

"I don't believe it," cries Vivian angrily. "His coming 
changed you. He, a stranger, came between you and the love 
that had followed your footsteps since you were a child. Editha, 
think how little you know of him ; how he can but give you at 
most a divided heart, putting the best part of himself into his 
books ; dependent upon public favour; miserable, if newspapers 
withhold their praise. There can be no such thing as domestic 
peace with such a man as that; a man who writes plays, who 
hangs about the side scenes, and knows half the actresses in 
London. Is that a man to offer you an established home, a 
happy tranquil life? Be warned in time, Editha, for Ruth's sake, 
for mine, if not for your own. Give me half your heart, if you 
cannot give me all. Give me your pity, your toleration. I do 
not ask measure for measure ; only let me love you and watch 
over your life, and the study of my days shall be to make you 

" You are too good, too generous to me, but most ungenerous 
to Mr. Wcstray, who has done you no wrong. I have tried for a 
long while to make you understand that there was no possibility 
of our ever being more to each other than we are to-day — I 
hope — true and loyal friends. It is not my fault if you have 
been blind to the truth, if you have cherished ideas which I 
have never sanctioned or encouraged. Let this bo our first and 
last discussion of this kind, Vivian," she concludes with kindly 

"Well, I think I knew my fate before I came here to-day," he 
says, after a little pause, pale with anger and grief, " but I was 
bent upon saying my say. I thank you for your plain speaking," 
with a little bitter laugh. " You have left no room for doubt. 
All is said — all is ended. The hope of my manhood goes down 
like a broken-backed ship at sea — all hands on board, nothing 
saved from the wreck. So be it, Editha. Heaven knows, if I 
feel this keenly, my pain is not altogether selfish. I am sorry for 
all of us — sorry for Ruth, sorry for your father, for the poor 
people at Lochwithian who love you — sorriest of all for you." 

" I don't understand why you should compassionate me," she 
answers, stung by the conclusion of his speech. 

" I daresay not. Love is notoriously blind. You will under- 
stand me too well in days to come. Good-bye, Editha." He 
offers his hand, looking at her with a piteous tenderness. 

" Good-bye, Vivian. And 0, if I have thoughtlessly given you 
pain, I most humbly beg you to forgive me." 

'' My dear, there can be no question of forgiveness between 
yi.'j and me. Your dog, if you Hogged him, would crawl to your 
feet and fawn upon you half an hour afterwards. Think of me 

112 Hostages to Fortune. 

as you think of your dog. I can take my punishment, and still 
be faithful ; and if ever there shall come a day when you have 
need of my love, put it to the proof. You shall not find it 

They shake hands and part ; and Editha feels more pain than 
she has ever known before from any act of her own— suffers as 
she might suffer if she had hurt her horse or her dog, blindly- 
faithful creatures that worship her. Her conscience is racked 
with the thought that she might have saved Vivian this agony of 
to-day. She has tried her best to let him see the vanity of his 
hopes ; but she is not the less remorseful, feeling that his pain 
must be in some measure her fault. 

The next day is the 4th of June, Speech-day at Eton. Her- 
man and the Curate have made an engagement with the two 
ladies to take them down to Windsor by rail, and show them the 
castle and park, the river and college, St. George's Chapel, and, 
in short, all the lions of the most delightful show-place in the 
world. These innocent Cambrians have never seen the medireval 
pile, British royalty's only royal abode, nor the forest, nor Vir- 
ginia Water, nor the schools which Henry VI. founded for 
deserving lads of humble condition. 

They are to start directly after breakfast, arrive at Windsor by 
eleven o'clock, see castle and chapel, drive in the Forest and walk 
by the placid waters of Virginia, lunch at the Wheatsheaf, then 
back to Windsor, where Herman is to charter a wherry and row 
them up to Surly Hall. He proposes a dinner at the Castle or 
White Hart, but the ladies prefer returning to a German tea in 
Lima-crescent, and Herman is content to accept the German tea, 
looking forward to a friendly evening afterwards. 

He wonders at himself- a little on the morning of the 4th — a 
gracious June morning, with the balmy breath of summer 
sweetening the air, wonders that he, of all men, should be looking 
forward with delight to the prospect of escorting two country- 
bred females through the familiar glades of Windsor, or rowing 
them on gentle Thames, performing, in fact, all those functions 
which he has been wont to ascribe solely to the tame-cat species. 
" Love makes tame cats of the best of us," he says to himself 
apologetically. " Samson and Hercules, Pericles, Nero, all in the 
same boat. Dear Dewrance ! How nice it is of him to lend 
himself to our pleasures, knowing, as he must know, that his 
portion will be Mrs. Williams ! " 

Happy morning in the fair June sunlight, which glorifies even 
the prosaic Paddington platform, with its labyrinthine lines going 
to all corners of the earth ; its bewildering ticket-offices ; its 
mountainous piles of luggage, and all-pervading porters rushing 

Hostages to Fortune. 113 

it. the unoffending traveller with trucks. Editha and ]\Irs. 
Williams meet the two gentlemen at the station ; the e'der lady 
glorious in silver-gray moire and a black-lace shawl ; the younger 
in some simple straw-coloured fabric, pale and cool, and a rustic 
Dunstable hat, which might be what milliners call "trying" to a 
less perfect face. 

Herman has secured a compartment — has taken the tickets. Thero 
is no bewilderment, no going astray upon platforms that lead to 
Milford Haven or Exeter. The bell rings, and anon they are 
gliding smoothly out of grimy London, away to the clover- 
scented meadows, to the winding river. 

Dewrance is in his glory ; a conscientious performance in the 
tame-cat line is always pleasing to him. He devotes himself to 
the duties of the day as seriously as if his future bishopric de- 
pended on his exact performance of them — as if a deanery in 
the immediate present hung on his faithful service. He explains 
to the ladies what they have to see and how they ought to sec it ; 
gives them a concise historical and archaeological lecture about 
the castle, diversified by anecdotes of Charles II. and George IV., 
who seem to have fastened themselves on to the immortal fabric 
as barnacles upon some stately ship. He branches oft: upon 
an ecclesiastical line after this, and expounds the splendours of 
the chapel ; but in the midst of his discourse contrives to point 
out all interesting or remarkable objects which they happen to 
pass, till a curve of the line brings them face to face with the 
towers and battlements of the Norman stronghold standing boldly 
out against a background of undulating wood, bright with sum- 
mer's early green. 

Herman has done nothing but sit in his corner and look at 
Editha all the time, and has been infinitely content. Once or 
twice she has stolen a little look at him, as much as to say, " Are 
you interested ? " or, " I hope he is not boring you." But 
their eyes have met each time, and hers have been with- 
drawn in a gentle confusion, a shy surprise. Love, seeing 
thy youth is so sweet, whence comes the bitter in thine after 
years ? 

They "do" the castle conscientiously— St. George's Chapel, 
the terrace above the slopes, where the finest seringas in England 
are breathing delicate odours to the noontide sun. 

" Remind you of orange-blossoms, don't they ? " says Dew- 
rance to Editha, in his matter-of-fact voice. " Hope I may 
have the pleasure of officiating when you wear that kind of 

tl,ir -e-" 

Herman leans over and plucks a sprig, an audacity which is 
high treason or lese-majeste, no doubt, and gives it to Editha. 

114 Hostages to Fortune. 

' : Will you keep it till the day of .orange-blossoms?" he 
tusks ; and as she takes the little flower their -eyes meet, and that 
one long look is love's silent compact — a promise which it 
were erjury to break, an engagement which death alone could 

" The next thing to think about is a fly with a good horse," 
says Dewrance, who has been showing Mrs. Williams a monster 
gun, and explaining the process of firing the same. " We 
haven't too much time if you want to see Eton and the river 
filter lunch. Virginia Water and the Forest will take two 
hou ••■* '' 

Thus, with agreeable briskness, startling the lovers from their 
day-dream. Mr. Dewrance leads thein in triumph to the High- 
street, where he and Herman devote themselves to the study of 
horseflesh as ardently as if they were going to speculate in the 
purchase of one of those useful hacks which stand in patient 
rank n the shadow of the castle wall. 

After a sharp scrutiny they select a straight-legged animal 
attached to a decent and roomy landau, and in this vehicle drive 
into the Long Walk, where the elms are in their early summer 
beaut3 r , Dewrance still discoursing cheerfully, encouraged thereto 
by cousin Juliana, who hangs upon his words, and stimulates con- 
versation with frequent exclamations and ejaculations, Editha 
and Herman sitting opposite each other, rapt in sweetest silence, 
the stolen sprig of seringa fastened on the girl's breast. 

They are in the Forest, when their charioteer inquires with 
friendly solicitude whether they would not like to see the 
" rottondendrums." They will have to get out and walk a bit, 
he informs them, but it is a sight worth seeing — your flyman 
having a rooted preference for those sights which oblige his fare 
to leave the vehicle for an hour or so, whereby the flyman may 
put a nose-bag on his steed, and repose himself in the sun for a 
while, placidly idle. 

" The Khododendron Walk ! " exclaims Dewrance ; " of course, 
a tiling you ought to see, and in perfection just now. Yes, 
coachman, you can stop for the rhododendrons." 

They drive to a wooden gate — rustic, unpretending — alight, 
and enter a paradise of purple and green — a verdant alley 
between high walls of blossom. Birds are singing, bees hum- 
ming ; for the rest there is silence as in a world newly made, 
solitude as on the shores of the Amazon. 

" How lovely ! " exclaim- the ladies simultaneously. 

" Yes, it's pretty, isn't it ? You don't get this kind of thing 
in Wales. This is royal ; the bushes were planted by Q'j» qt \ 

Hostages to Fortune. 115 

" What a pity they're all one colour ! " says Mis. Williams, 
who looks at rhododendrons as rhododendrons, and would like to 
see the last varieties o£ the nurseryman's culture in this century- 
old avenue. 

"0 Juliana, how can j'ou find fault with anything so perfectly 
lovely ! " 

"My dear, if there were a few of! those white ones, or the 
rose-coloured which we saw at Kew, interspersed, you know, it 
would certainly heighten the effect." 

Mrs. Williams is a slow walker, and, in faithful attendance upon 
her, the Curate soon finds himself left ever so far behind by the 
other two, who wander on, and are out of sight before cousin 
Juliana has succeeded in distinguishing a squirrel, which Mr. 
Dewrance has politely pointed out to her, frisking in the wooded 
background which breaks upon them here and there through a gap 
in the rhododendrons. 

Those others are out of ear-shot very soon, alone, as Adam and 
Eve in Paradise, and as forgetful of the rest of the world as if 
they had been verily the first of created human beings, and the 
mass of mankind an affair of the remote future. Ilernian's 
silence is over. They are together among the flowers, with 
the lark singing shrilly sweet aloft in the cloudless blue — alone 
as they have not been since the vaguest fancies grew to strongest 

" Editha, you wear that flower for my sake. Does it mean 
that you will wear the orange-bloom for none but me ? Answer 
yes, darling ; for none but me — all unworthy of your love, but 
chosen because 1 love so well. Look at me, Editha — answer, 
sweet. My happiest thought in looking forward to this day 
was the thought that we might be alone for a little while. 
Our moments together are so brief." 

She cannot answer him just yet. One little hand plays 
nervously with the spray of seringa, her eyelids droop over the 
soft gray eyes. He sees the dark lashes tremble on the rich 
bloom of her cheek before that lovely blush dies away and leaves 
her pale. 

" Editha, are you angry with me for having dared to hope ? I 
know I am not worthy of you, that I am your inferior in all that 
is highest and best in mind or heart. I have known that from 
the day we met — from that happy summer hour, nearly a 
year ago, when we sat on the margin of the' fountain, and you 
talked to me of my profession with that sweet serious air of yours 
which made me think of Hypatia. But I love you, dear ; and 
true love must stand for virtues that I have not. I will love and 
honour you all the days of my life, and my nature shall be 

116 Hostages to Fortune. 

exalted by its union with yours. Dearest, you have the prettiest 
way of lecturing me sometimes ; you inspire me with loftier 
desires, you elevate the mere thirst of success to a noble arr. 
bition. Love, will you take nr^ life into your hands, be my 
teacher, my guide, the gentle ruler of my days and thoughts ? 
-That wide word wife includes all the rest. Will you be my wife, 
Editha ? " 

He has taken the hand that hung loose at her side — the hand 
that he longed so to take, last year at Lochwithian — taken 
possession of it utterly, as if it were his own property. 

" If I thought your life would be better or happier," she 
falters, only able to approach the awful question in a lateral 

" It will be — happier, better, brighter, and ever so much longer; 
for if you were to reject me I should make short work of the 
wretched remnant of my existence — squander i,t on riotous 
nights, burn it out in a blaze of gas; devote my days to billiards, 
my nights to tobacco, sleepnessness, and green tea. You mean 
yes, EJitha. I shall see the waxen orange-flowers in your dark 
hair — worn for me — for me, the king of men on that glad day. 
Darling, you love me a little, you will bear with me a little? 
You will take me, faulty as I am — trust me with your young 
life, believe in me and in my future, which shall be bright for 
your dear sake, if labour and ambition can brighten it. Love, 
you are all my own— this trembling hand answers best." 

His arm is around her, and she is drawn to his breast in the 
sweet summer solitude. Her head lies there for one blessed 
moment, while his lips seal their betrothal — the first masculine 
lips, save her father's, that have kissed her since she was a child 
— a kiss of sacred promise, never to be forgotten, sealing her for 
his own. 

The contract beingthus ratified, her next thought is of her sister. 

" Ruth will be sony," she says regretfully. 

" S.irry that I have won you, my sweet? Can Ruth be so un- 
kind ? " 

"Sorry for a marriage that will separate me from her. lou 
must live in London always, must you not ? " 

" For a journalist and author who wishes to do the best for 
himself London is the only field. The Lake poets managed to 
write at three days' journey from the metropolis, but they did not 
make their fortunes". Southey would have been a rich man if he 
had lived in the Temple and written for the daily press." 

" We must live in London then, Herman ? " How sweet that 
plural pronoun to the lover's ear! "And Ruth will be alone at 
the Priory." 

Hostages to Fortune. 117 

" Why should she live alone, if your society is essential to her 
happiness ? Let her home be with us." 

" Dear Herman, how good of you to propose it ! But I do not 
think she would leave Lochwithian on any account." ► 

-Then she loves Lochwithian more than she loves you, and as 
1 hive you better than all the world, I must have the better right 
to you." , 

'"' She miy come and stay with us sometimes ? " says Editha. 
It seems quite a natural thing to talk of their future already, 
though it is hut a minute since love has spoken boldly. 

" She shall have loving welcome, let her come when she may,* 1 
replies Herman, careless of all things in this blissful moment. 

They walk side by side between the rhododendrons, her hand 
drawn" through his arm and held there, as if it were never to be 
released from that strong grasp. A backward glance shows him 
the Curate and Cousin Juliana, still afar, but in sight, warning 
him that there must be no farther demonstrations of victorious 

" My darling, do you know that when first we met I was abso- 
lutelv afraid of you ? I can hardly believe, at this blessed 
moment, with this dear hand in mine, that you are really the 
young lady I came to see at Lochwithian — the serious young 
lady, sworn ally of the Church, a curate in petticoats, whom I 
approached with admiring awe, and in whom every touch of 
sweetness and womanliness was an exquisite surprise." 

" Need a woman be less womanly for giving some thought to 
serious things, and for trying — ever so feebly at best — to do her 
duty ? " 

" Dearest, you have answered that question by your own ex- 
ample — she need not. The womanliest woman I know is she 
whose hand 1 hold. I know that I am not good enough for you, 
di.-ar, but I no longer fear your goodness. Take my life into 
your hands, and make it better if you can — happier you cannot 
fail to make it." 

Hereupon they slacken their pace, and let cousin Juliana over- 
take them, " scant of breath," like the Danish pi-ince, and finding 
balmy June too much for her. So they leave the rhododendron 
Wood and drive on to Virginia Water, and wander — Herman and 
Editha always side by side — on the verdant margin of that 
placid lake, and hear the birds singing in the silent woods, and 
pour out sweet confessions of mutual feeling, telling each other 
how first, when first, tremulous as a new-fledged bird, the thrilling 
thought awoke in each breast that this was love. Dewrance, re- 
signed, and bearing himself with the magnanimity of a Damon, 
sees and understands all, and bears the burden of cousin Juliana, 

118 Hostages to fortune. 

and orders the luncheon, and makes the salad, and charters the 
boat by and by, and secures a compartment for the return jour- 
ney, and carves chickens and tongue, and hands teacups, and 
compounds. claret-cup at the evening meal, and is altogether the 
best of fellows, as Herman tells him when they leave Lima- 
crescent, and walk beneath summer starshine to Bolivia-gardens, 

" You're a dear fellow, Dewrance, a genuine thorough-going 
friend ; and I feel as if I owe you in some sort the beginning of 
my happiness. It's all right, my dear boy, and I — well, I'm a 
great deal luckier than I deserve to be." 

'' As if I didn't know that ! I thought you would bring mat- 
ters to a crisis to-day. Curious, rather, that it should end so, 
after your very emphatic observations at Llandrysak ; but I 
never knew a man protest his unfitness for any particular woman 
without his ending by falling in love with that very woman. 
Xo, I am not surprised ; a little sorry, perhaps, knowing both of 
you pretty well, and seeing what you saw so clearly at the out- 
set, the want of harmony in your lives." 

'• Cannot my life become better under her influence ? " 

"That's an open question. A man so self-contained as you 
is hardly a likely subject for a wife's influence. She may take 
the colour of her thoughts from you, but I doubt if she'll ever 
succeed in changing the colour of yours. Have you told her 
your opinions, by the way 't " 

" About what ? " 

" Upon the subject you have freely discussed with me ; a 
trifle, and beside the question, perhaps, in your mind, but to her 
the one thing needful. Have you told her your estimate of 
Christianity 'i " 

" I have asked her to be my wife, and she has answered yes," 
says Herman. "I did not accompany the question with a con- 
cise confession of faith, or want of faith — did not read myself 
in with the thirty-nine articles of my particular creed. I don't 
know what High-Church people may do under similar circum- 
stances, or what you would expect from me." 

" I think it would have been the act of an honest man to tell 
her the truth. Faith is her strong rock." 

" I shall never assail its foundations. It is for your spiritual 
millionaire to make converts. The bankrupt in spiritual things 
asks no man to share his destitution." 

o » « o o 

Three days after the Windsor expedition the Squire returns to 
Lochwithian with his womankind ; and before that return every- 
thing is arranged. Direfully disappointed at first that the son- 
in-law" present"' 1 + " 1>, ' ln Rliruild tie. a. literary adventurer instead 

Hostages to Fortune. 110 

of a landed gentleman — slow to understand the promise of Her- 
man's career, recognising but little advantage in present reputa- 
tion or future glory — he is angry with cousin Juliana for her 
carelessness, with himself for his blindness, with Editha for her 
infatuation, and with Herman for his presumption. Reluctantly, 
finding Editha firm as rock, he gives way, and submits dolefully 
to Love's stern decree. It is hardly a relief to hear that Herman 
has saved a few thousands, or that he estimates his income 
roughly at two thousand per annum. 

" Don't call- it income, my dear fellow," says the Squire testily. 
" If you had the gout in your hand to-morrow, the income would 

"Not necessarily. I could dictate to a shorthand writer. 
One of Scott's best novels was dictated from a sick-bed." 

" Pshaw ! You may have softening of the brain, or the public 
humour may change — your novels prove a drug in the market.. 
Call your present earnings what you please, Mr. Westray, so 
long as you don't call them income." 

" So be it," replies Herman. " I am not afraid of the future 
with Editha for my wife." 

" Whoever heard of a man being afraid of the future when he 
wants to get married ! " exclaims Mr. Morcombe. " A lawyer's 
clerk will many on sixty pounds a year without being afraid of 
the future, though the future may mean six hungry children. 
People never are afraid of the future when they want to indulge 
themselves in the present." 

After much bemoaning about Vivian Hetheridge, whose ulti- 
mate union with Editha he has looked upon as a settled thing, 
the Squire gives his melancholy consent. Herman is to insure 
his life for three thousand pounds, and settle the policy on his 
wife, and Editha's two hundred a year is to be tied up as tightly 
as many -worded legal documents can tie it — to which conditions 
Hennan agrees rejoicingly. 

Happy interval between the day of betrothal and the sad hour 
of parting! Herman and Editha spend the greater part of those 
three days in unrestrained companionship, cousin Juliana looking , 
on placidly, having taken her. scolding meekly from the Squire, 
and being at heart devoted to the lovers. These three perambu- 
late that Tyburnian suburb, with its endless labyrinth of streets 
and crescents and gardens and terraces, looking for that arche- 
typal house in which the young cou«ple are to set up their house- 
hold gods, and enter upon the mystery of domestic life. They 
talk of it as lightly, both of them, as if it were a summer 
holiday, rather than the solemn thing it is, committing them to 
manifold responsibilities, opening, the floors of a world full of 

120 Hostages to Fortune. 

perils and pains and sorrows. Single, these two young lives are 
like a ship lying in harbour, safe from winds and waves ; 
married, they will resemble the same ship far out at sea, 
tempest-tost, fighting the elements, with desperate odds against 

They are not looking for the actual house in which they are to 
live, but only for the kind of house they will require — so that the 
choice may be simplified by and by. " It is much too soon for 
thinking about a house," says Editha. 

" Not at all too soon," protests Herman. " What is there to 
delay our marriage ? If you knew what an unsettled, purpose- 
less being I shall be until our new life begins, you would not be 
so cruel as to protract my misery." 

" I want Ruth to get used to the idea of losing me," replies 
Editha. "You can come to Lochwithian when your book is 
finished, you know." 

" That will not be before August. What do you say to our 
being married in September ? " 

" September in next year ? " 

" No, my fair tyrant, September next — the September for whose 
guns the innocent young partridges are fattening." 

" 0, Herman, I must have one more Christmas at home. All 
the poor people look forward to Christmas." 

"Coals and blankets," interjects Herman sceptically. 

"And we have an evening for the school children — blind- 
man's buff and a magic lantern ; and Ruth's sofa is carried down 
to the hall, and she gives away the clothing we have made in 
the autumn. I must have one more Christmas at Lochwithian, 

" You shall, darling. We will go down and spend Christmas 
there together, if your papa will have us ; and you shall dis- 
tribute the frocks and muffetees, and the children shall give three 
cheers for my bonny young bride, till the old rafters ring." 

He means to have his way, this happy lover, though he is con- 
tent to say no more just yet. They roam up and down, looking 
at houses which bear a remarkable family resemblance to one 
another, thevery cornices spouting out in the same architectural 
piccalili, a school of ornament which seems the result of a pro- 
found study of the cauliflower tribe. The mantelpieces look as 
if they had all been dug out of the same quarry, and chipped into 
shape by the same masons — mottled marble, like Castile soap, in 
the dining-rooms ; statuary marble, with a little more of the 
cauliflower decoration, in the drawing-rooms. Papers alike- 
graining alike — general newness and tendency to shrinking in 
the woodwork alike,, 

Hostages to Fortune. 121 

Herman sighs despondently as they stand in the drawing- 
room of the sixteenth house, the afternoon sun glaring in 
upon them through three long plate-glass windows set flat in 
the wall. 

" There's a sad want of individuality in your modern dwelling- 
house," he says. "Too windy for a house, too fine for a 
factory or a gaol. I haven't seen my ideal house yet, Editha. 
Have you? " 

Editha owns that the Bayswater dwellings are uninteresting. 

" My love, you would go mad in a vapid square box of this 
kind, after Lochwithian Priory. We must look farther afield." 

"There is plenty of time, Herman." 

"Yes, between this and September. How would you like to 
live by the water ? " 

Editha hasn't the least idea which water he means. 

" On the banks of the Thames — by that river we were on the 
other day. There are some nice old places at Putney and Fulham 
and Chiswick — houses that people have lived and died in — not 
newly run-up packing cases smelling of damp mortar." 

" Indeed, Herman, I should like to live wherever you would be 
happiest," replies Editha, a wife already in self-abnegation and 
submission ; "and I think an old-fashioned cottage by that 
lovely river would be ever so much nicer than Bayswater, 
where the streets and terraces are so dreadfully long and 

Cousin Juliana suggests that water is generally damp, and 
that a river-side residence and rheumatism go together in her 

'■ Dear Juliana, we are only talking at random. There 
is plenty of time for Herman to change his mind again and 

" Of course," says Herman ; " but I shall explore Fulham and 
Chiswick the day after to-morrow, notwithstanding." 

To-morrow is to see their parting — not a sad one, though it is 
pain to part for ever so brief a span. Herman promises to come 
to Lochwithian at the end of July. He will finish his book by 
that time. He means to work double tides — to dash off a new 
piece for the Frivolity in the intervals of his more serious labour. 
He feels infinite responsibilities upon him, but not as a burden 
-r-rather as an armour which must make him invincible in the 

'' You can't imagine how light my work will seem to me, 
Elitlia, henceforward," he says, in those two brief moments 
which they have to themselves at the station. " I shall have my 
goal before me now. Until now I have had only an indefinite 

122 Hostages to Fortune. 

spasmodic desire to get on, for my own sake — an ambition so 
utterly selfish that it seemed a vice rather than a virtue. Hence- 
forward I labour for you. That thought will renew my strength. 
I shall work as well as I did years ago, when I knew my mother's 
comfort depended on my pen. I have given hostages to Fortune." 
And thus they kiss and part. 


" We can be nothing to each other, and yet are too much to each other. 
. . . I will see thee no more. All I can say is mere folly. In future 

I shall see thse as men see the stars." 

IIkriian is not false to his promise made at the railway-station. 
He works as he has seldom worked before ; labours for long 
hours with a spring and a freshness in his work that make it 
light. Bright thoughts come to him unsought ; the gold lies on 
the surface. It is as it some fairy sat beside him and breathed 
happy fancies into his mind. There is no grinding against the 
grain. His pen, swift as habit has made it, cannot keep pace 
with his fancy. And he knows that this new book — higher in 
design, simpler in treatment, than any other story of his — will be 
popular, let the Censor pronounce what judgment it may. The 
characters which have such a vigorous life for him will live for 
his readers. In his last effort there might have been too much 
labour, a studied simplicity, a too elaborate puritanism. In this 
story Fancy follows her own wayward will, Imagination is 
dominant over Art. 

Herman has not availed himself of Mr. Lyndhurst's invitation 
for the Derby, Editha being in town at the time of the Epsjm 
saturnalia, and all the races that were ever run being of no more 
account to her lover than a race of flies across the ceiling. 

Dropping into the greenroom of the Frivolity one evening to 
discuss certain vague ideas for a new comedy with Myra — he 
never goes to her house now — : Herman finds Mr. . Lj-ndlmrst 
leaning in his favourite attitude against the mantelpiece, talking 
to Miss AV alters, the soubrette, who in the matter of slang is 
more than a match for him. 

" Bather unfriendly of you to throw me over the other day, 

Hostages to Fortune. 123 

Westray," says Mr. Lyndhurst, as they shako hands, while Miss 
Walters withdraws to the other end of! the room, and contem- 
plates her blue-satin hessians in the glass. 

" It really wasn't an engagement, you know. I told you I was' 
likely to be engaged elsewhere." 

"Did you? I thought you were booked for my party. We 
had rather a jolly day. Earlswood was with us, and so-and-so, 
and so-and-so," running over a string of names ; " just the right 
people for that kind of thing ; and we wound up with a dinner 
at the Pandemos. However, perhaps our party on Thursday will 
be more in your line ; small and select — Mrs. Brandreth and 
Earlswood, Miss Belormond and myself. Just room for you. 
We're going to post down. Will you come ? " 

Herman Westray hesitates. Hamilton Lyndhurst is of all 
men the one whose acquaintance he cares least to cultivate just 
now — the man he would least like to see a frequent guest in that 
home which is now his daydream. But he and Lyndhurst have 
been on friendly terms for the last five years ; he has cultivated 
the man's society at odd times, regarding him as an interesting 
specimen amid the varieties of mankind ; and, whatever his 
views for the future, he cannot well be uncivil to Mr. Lyndhurst 
in the present. 

While he pauses, undecided, Mrs. Brandreth comes in, flushed 
and breathless after a powerful piece- of declamation at the end 
of an act. The withdrawal of Hemlock has been followed by an 
adaptation of a play by Dumas, which has startled all Paris at 
the Gymnase ; but which, with its motive cut clean away and its 
morality whitewashed, has been tortured into an invertebrate 
domestic drama, and has signally failed in its attempt to startle 
London. This piece having been unlucky — though prepared by 
an eminent hand — Mrs. Brandreth is desperately anxious to get 
a play from Herman. 

" I have been asking Westray to join our party on Thursday," 
s;iys Lyndhurst. 

" And he has said yes, I hope," exclaims Myra. " How nice 
that will be! We can discuss your ideas for the new piece," 
she adds, turning radiantly to Herman. 

"It will be against the interests of the new piece that I should 
take a day's holiday. 1 am working very closely just now." 

" All the more reason tuat you should allow yourself a few 
hours' respite," says Myra. 

Herman is doubtful. Tnose double tides have kept him close 
to his desk, and he has a very human desire for fresh air and 
sunshine, the lights and shadows on a breezy heath, the concourse 
of prosjio-i-nns well-dressed mankind, a race on which fortunes 

124 Hostages to Fortune. 

are won and lost. The racing year is getting old, and he has not 
seen one of the horses he hears men talk about at his club. 

" If I could spare the day," he says, wavering. 

"If you can ! Why, you will work all the better afterwards ! " 

" I fear not. There must be something mechanical in my 
workmanship ; for throw me out of gear, and it takes ever so 
long before the wheels go again. I am like one of those monster 
ironworks one reads of in the North, where it takes a week to get 
the fires lighted." 

" Bank up your fires on Wednesday night, and you'll be ready 
for a vigorous start on Friday morning," says Lyndhurst. " II; 
you are a mechanical writer, you should go to work like your 
brother-novelist Phil pott, who writes eight folios every morning, 
neither more nor less, and leaves off at a hyphen rather than 
begin a ninth. That's the way to write novels." 

" Do go," pleads Myra ; and something in her tone brings back 
the old days when the lightest word from her would have been a 
command — that one happy summer time when her beauty and 
genius brightened the little world of home. She seems ten years 
younger to him just in this moment. Only for one moment. In 
the next the consciousness of all that has come and gone since 
those days flashes back upon him. Life is full of these brief 
waking trances — this catalepsy of memory. 

" What can you want with me ? " he asks. " You cannot have 
a more amusing companion than Lyndhurst, and Lord Earlswood 
is to be with you." 

" I want to talk to you about a new piece. This Hands, not 
Hearts, is an abominable failure, although Paris is raving about 
it. I suppose it only jwoves the difference between Fargueil's 
power and mine." 

" I think it only proves that when you take away the motive 
of a play, and alter the relations of the principal characters 
towards each other, you weaken it considerably ; to say nothing 
of the discount to be allowed for the change from the brightest 
and most epigrammatic of languages to our lumpish Saxon." 

" You'll come on Thursday ? " 

" Of course, if you make a point of it. I have rather a good 
idea for the end of the second act which I should like to talk 
over with you. I know your tact in the arrangement of situa- 
tion. You'll be sure to give me some valuable hints." 

His belief in her talent is unbounded. This unlucky adapta- 
tion has given new and striking proof of her power. She h is 
borne the weight of the piece on her shoulders, and the scenes in 
which she appears have gone brilliantly, although the play has 
failed to draw money. It has been un success d'actrice. 

Hostages to Fortune. 125 

The Cup-day opens brilliantly — Queen's weather, as all tho 
newspapers exclaim in chorus, dimly reminiscent of the day 
when Majesty adorned the Berkshire racecourse. 

Herman feels that this brief pause in his busy life is worth 
having. Summer is so sweet a thing m this early stage, with all 
her freshness upon her, before the fruit has begun to ripen on 
old garden walls, before the scythe has slain the glory of long 
feathery grasses, or the song of nightingale has died in the 
twilit woodland. 

Mr. Lyndhurst picks Mr. Westrayup at his chambers at eleven 
o'clock, the last of the party. Mrs. Brandreth and Miss Belor- 
mond are in the capacious landau ; Lord Earlswood and his con- 
fidential groom occupy the box ; a basket swings behind ; four 
horses and two blue-jacketed postillions astonish the bystanders. 

Myra looks charming in a toilette which is of the simplest, yet 
has a picturesque grace that might do credit to Worth himself. 
The fabric of the dress is creamy -hued cambric, disposed in 
manifold plaitings ; its only embellishment a broad sash of 
palest azure and a sprinkling of pale azure bows, like a flight of 
heaven-coloured butterflies. A soft cream-coloured felt hat — 
after Vandyke — with a long azure feather and massive silver 
buckle, completes Mrs. Brandreth's costume. Miss Belormond's 
brilliant mauve and white costume has cost three times as much ; 
but Miss Belormond at best resembles an animated fashion-plate, 
while Myra looks as if she had stepped out of an old picture. 

Miss Belormond is a young lady who has devoted herself to 
the drama chiefly because she is handsome, and is expected to 
make her mark speedily as the beautiful Miss Belormond ; 
secondly, because she and her immediate friends imagine that 
what Mrs. Brandreth has done may be as easily achieved by any 
young woman of equal personal attractions. And Miss Belor- 
mond is much handsomer than Mrs. Brandreth. Her eyes are 
larger, her complexion finer, her mouth more nearly resembles 
Cupid's bow, her figure is infinitely superior to Myra's, which 
has little to recommend it except consummate grace. In a 
word, then, Miss Belormond's friends come to the conclusion 
that the young lady has nothing to do but go in and win. Love 
of dramatic art — liking even — she has none ; she has never re- 
cited six lines of Shakespeare voluntarily in her life, or been 
moved by a play. But she can be taught, argue her friends ; it 
is all an affair of tuition ; and as Miss Belormond has discovered 
all at once that she is dying to make her debut as Juliet in white 
satin and silver passementerie, she is eager to learn. So she is 
handed over to one of the dramatic grinders, and is taught the same 
tones, and turns of head and arm, and inflections and tremu- 

126 Hostages to Fortune. 

losos, that have been ground into Miss Wilson and Miss Milson, 
Miss Stokes arid Miss Noakcs, and in due course turned out of 
hand a finished Juliet. Her parents are not wealthy enough to 
defray the charges of this training, or to supply the costly rai- 
ment in which Miss Belonnond thinks it indispensable to appear 
at rehearsal, nor are they influential enough to procure that 
debut for which the young lady pines ; but she is happily en- 
dowed with a rich godfather, who seems to be a near relation of 
Cinderella's fairy sponsor, and this gentleman — gray-moustached 
and in the sugar-baking trade — kindly arranges everything, even 
to the neat single brougham which is indispensable to Miss Bel- 
ormond's launch — without which, indeed, that trim-built vessel 
could scarcely be got off the stocks. 

Bella Walters and the unbelieving of the Frivolity corps have 
wondered not a little that Mrs. Brandreth should engage so 
handsome a woman as "Belonnond " to act with her ; but to see 
the two together is to find the answer to the enigma. That 
handsome dolt, splendid in colouring, perfect in feature, but with 
no more soul or spontaneous vitality than if she had been made 
by Madame Tussaud, is the best foil that the electrical Myra 
could have devised for herself. The expressionless beauty of 
this dull creature gives point and piquancy to Myra's counten- 
ance, which is all expression. The lifeless perfection of one en- 
hances the charm of the other, and Myra is never so enchanting as 
when her imperfections are contrasted with this faultless nullity. 

The two women have not a thought in common, Miss Belor- 
mond's mind seldom soaring above the contemplation of a new 
dress or the expectation of a little dinner. They rarely meet 
outside the theatre, and Miss Belormond's experiences at re- 
hearsal have inspired a wholesome fear of her manageress. 
Myra's polished sarcasms sting her like the cut of a lash, and she 
has more than once hinted to the fairy godfather that she will 
never know real bliss until she has a theatre of her own, and 
actresses of her own to sneer at, as Mrs. Brandreth sneers at her 
— remarks which the fairy godfather allows to pass him by like 
th>' idle wind. 

Miss Belonnond therefore, aware that this companionship of 
to-day is a condescension on Mrs. Brandreth's part, is on her best 
behaviour, and is for the most part content to simper and say 
nothing. There is a drop of bitter mingled with her cup of 
sweetness, in the fact that she has accepted Mr. Lyndhurst's in- 
vitation without the consent or knowledge of that benevolent 
godfather ; nay, that she has been guilty of overt deception in 
informing her estimable sponsor that she is going to spend the 
day with her aunt Drayson, at Nightingale-terrace, New Cross. 

Ilosttujcs to For ,'ti,e. 127 

Mr. Lyndlmrst is tired of tlio vapid bcaul.y already, though ho 
has not been a quarter of an hour in her sociuty. 

"I wish I'd asked Bella Walters," he says to himself; "there's 
more fun in that cock-nosed little puss than in a regiment of 

Herman, who has seen Miss Belonnond about the theatre, and 
noticed her about as much as he would have noticed any other 
handsome piece of furniture, greets her politely, but wonders 
not a little what she and Myra do in the same galley, outside the 
theatre. He does not know that this business of to-day is one of 
love's many meannesses. Myra, who now so seldom sees him, 
lowers herself to doubtful company for the sake of being for a 
few hours with him. Had he refused Mr. Lyndhurst's invitation, 
she- would have found an excuse for staying at home on the Cup-day. 

He is here, and she is all life and brightness, ready to talk of 
anything or everything. There is a worldly flavour in her talk — 
a spice of lemon and cayenne — which is refreshing from its 
novelty. With Editha he has been always in the skies, her 
world not being his world, nor her thoughts his thoughts. Even 
in talking of literature Myra has the advantage over the well-read 
country maiden ; for Myi a reads only the hooks of the day — 
books whose titles are on all men's lips— and always contrives to 
read them while they are fresh. The last argumentative batter- 
ing-ram brought to bear upon the citadel of Christian faith, the 
last French novel with its apotheosis of feminine infidelity, are 
alike familiar to her. She can talk of the gravest themes or the 
lightest, and has something trenchant or sparkling to say of all; 

Herman feels like a man who, after riding some quiet cob for a 
while, returns to the lively thoroughbred he rode before, and, as 
the pace increases, experiences a new sense of rapture and feels 
a forgotten power come back to him. This worldly talk is passing 
pleasant — pleasanter, perhaps, for the rattling pace of the car- 
riage as it s ims along the broad high-road, with its endless line 
of prim suburban villas, fringed with young limes and slim pink 
hawthorns and mop-shaped young trees of tenderest green, all 
after the same pattern ; pleasanter, perhaps, because of the bright 
and varying face opposite him, smiling under the soft shadow of 
the Vandyke hat. Lyndlmrst, tired of listening, tries to develop 
the conversational powers of Miss Belormond, who says, "That 
they do," and " That he does," when she is emphatically affirma- 
tive, and " Not a bit of it," when negative. Earlswood sits on the 
box and converses with his groom, who has come to look after 
the postillions and make himself generally useful. His lordship 
is serious and meditative, as beseems a man whose losses or gains 
between this and sunitown must be considerable. 

128 Uoslages to Fortune. 

" 1 hope I've done right in putting the pot on ahout Golden 
Fleece," he says dubiously. 

" Couldn't do better, my lord, after the information we had from 
— hum — hum — " replies the groom, dropping his voice to a con- 
fidential mumble. 

They arrive on the heath just when the crowd is thickest, and 
before ascending to Mr. Lyndhurst's box, stroll up and down the 
lawn for a little, Herman and Mrs. Brandreth interchanging 
greetings with a good many people, Miss Belormond stared at 
freely, but not finding many of her acquaintance in these 
favoured regions. 

Somehow — Herman can hardly tell how it has come about — ■ 
Myra and he are more intimate to-day than they have ever been 
since their period of juvenile folly at Colehaven. He has given 
her his arm to steer her through the crowd, and the tapering 
hand, in a glove which in texture and colour resembles the petal 
of a tea-rose, rests confidingly upon his sleeve, so confidingly 
that he is fain to press it gently once or twice when the crowd is 
densest. Her talk is full of life and freshness — freshness as of 
Cliquot just uncorked rather than of forest rill. She criticises the 
people they pass, utters scathing cynicisms — borrowed from the 
Scourge or the Censor — with a delicious placidity, and contrives 
to interest her companion so completely that he is in no hurry to 
ascend to the box, whence Miss Belormond and Hamilton Lynd- 
hurst are already raking the crowd with huge race-glasses. 
Earlswood is there too, and his smaller glass follows that pair 
below, with two angry eyes behind it. 

Does Herman forget Editha on this sunlit Cup-day, amidst 
odours of Ess Bouquet, and rustle of silk, and flutter of laces and 
muslins, and raucous cries of " Ten to one on the field " ? Well, 
no ; his state of mind is hardly forgetfulness, but rather a calm 
severance from Editha and that portion of his life which belongs 
to her. He is a young man capable of leading two distinct lives 
— half a dozen distinct lives if they offered themselves to him 
with sufficient attractiveness — of playing Odysseus abroad or 
Odj'sseus at home as occasion served. If fate throw him into 
Circe's or Calypso's company, he will enjoy himself reasonably, 
but be not the less faithful to Penelope when he returns to the 
h.alls of Ithaca. He sees no harm in making himself pleasant to 
Myra to-day, especially after his categorical declaration of 
limited liability in the way of friendship. Of his engagement 
and approaching marriage he has said not a word ; these are 
subjects too sacred to be talked about on racecourses or in 
greenrooins. The topics he discusses to-day are light as thistle- 
down, and, like thistledown, float away and are forgotten. Yet 

Hi'Majet to Fortune. 129 

perchance even this careless talk of to-day carries the germ of 
fertility with it, like that feathery seed, and will crop up some- 
how in days to come. 

They go up to the box at last, where Miss Belormond, having 
stared at the women's dresses to satiety, is yawning behind her 
race-glass, and wondering whether the fairy godfather has 
quite accepted that fiction about aunt Drayson, and wishing that 
some one would propose an adjournment to lobster salad and 
moselle, or chicken sandwich and champagne. 

This desired diversion comes almost immediately from Hamil- 
ton Lyndhurst, who is eager to escort the ladies to the refresh- 
ment-room, or to Mr. Vyne Hendler's private tent, where the 
initiated are being hospitably entertained all day long, and where 
royalty is supposed mostly to congregate. 

Miss Belormond rises briskly at the first bidding, having re- 
tained her primitive simplicity in the matter of appetite. Mrs. 
Brandreth refuses to stir. 

" Do you suppose I am going to allow myself to be trampled 
upon by a famishing crowd for the sake of a sandwich ? " she 
asks " If you like to send me some claret-cup and a biscuit, I 
will take it here. Mr. Westray is going to tell me about his 

Miss Belormond departs on Hamilton's arm, with an awful 
feeling that the fairy godfather must hear of this somehow, and 
that her brougham and her silk dresses will be spirited away like 
Cinderella's finery at the stroke of twelve ; but the present delight 
of being jostled in a well-dressed crowd, having sweet nothings 
murmured into her ear in Mr. Lyndhurst's legato baritone, and 
consuming lobster mayonnaise and champagne-cup — wholesome 
mixture ! — outweighs that vague dread, and the fair Belormond, 
not having room in her brain for composite emotion, is happy. 
Lord Earlswood has gone down to talk to the bookmen, so 
Herman anil Myra have the box to themselves. She sits with 
one arm resting listlessly upon the velvet cushion, her profile 
towards the crown, and with about as much thought of the pur- 
pose of the meeting as if she had been at church. He sits with 
his back to the crowd and his chair tilted on its hind legs, 
thoughtful even to absent-mindedness. 

" Do you remember the races at Tipsbury, the day papa drove 
us over in Mr. Sanderson's dog-cart ? " asks Myra. " What a 
delicious autumn day it was, and what lovely country — a stretch 
of common on the crest of a hill — and woods, woods woods on 
every side, and the great blue sea shining at us through a break 
in the foliage ! And what a simple-minded rustic meeting, half 
a race and half a fair ! Do you remember, Herman ? " 

130 Hostages to Fortune. 

"No," lie answers, curt to incivility; "I remember nothing. 
I drowned my memory ever so many years ago in the waters of 
Lethe. I know that there is a hamlet called Tipsbury on the 
ordnance-map, but I know no more." 

" What a nice thing that Lethe must he ! " retorts Myra, coiling 
up, as the Americans say. " I wish they would import the 
water, like Apollinaris. Many people I know seem to wash 
out their memories with soda-and-brandy. I fancy that is the 
modern Lethe. Now let us be business-like, and talk of our 

It is something to be able to say " our," even of this child of his 
brain; something that she can give form and life to the creations 
of his fancy ; something to help him by a suggestion, to direct 
him by her taste, which is faultless in all the details of dramatic 
art, from the turn of an epigram to the length of a ballet- 
dancer's petticoat. They talk drama for the next half hour 
vigorously, and Myra helps her author by more than one subtle 
suggestion, shows him where his scaffolding is weak, and how 
the climax of an act may be intensified. In his gratitude he ad- 
mires her almost as much as that innocent Myra of years gone by 
who acted the sleeping scene in Macbeth in the children's parlour 
at Colehaven Vicarage. 

The race for the Gup comes on at last, after a good many 
races, which seem slightly uninteresting to the masses, though 
the cause of maddest bawling and convulsive throes, as of 
Dionysian possession, to the bookmen. Now every one is, or pre- 
tends to be, interested ; every glass follows the favourite in the 
preliminary canter, which some eager spirits mistake for the race 
itself. Miss Lelormond has backed the favourite, and is to win 
gloves. Mrs. Brandretli has haughtily refused to speculate-in 
any manner. 

Very far away from that crowded racecourse are Myra's 
thoughts, even while the horses are sweeping past, as if driven 
before the blast of a hurricane, and the voices below are 
clamouring loudest. She is thinking of Colehaven and the days 
that are gone — the careless days, brimful of happiness, when 
Herman was hers. Perhaps it is that sweet time of youth she 
regrets almost as much as her lost lover ; perhaps she exaggerates 
that vanished happiness, and takes it for something better than 
it was, being so utterly gone. However this may be, regret is 
bitter. She sits beside her sometime lover, and knows herself as 
far from him as if they had the Southern Sea between them. 
And yet to-day her mind is fluttered with faint hopes. He has 
seemed happy, amused, interested. Her power to charm him 
may not be quite lost even yet. 

I] oat ages io FurL:ne. 131 

They leave the course immediately after the great race, Mvra 
ami .Miss Bi'lormond being due on the stage at half-past eigiil ; 
and a twenty-eight mile drive being no trifle, even with fresh 
horses at Hounslow. Throughout that homeward drive Mrs. 
Brandreth is bright and animated as when they journeyed by the 
same road in the morning. She has put the past and future out 
of her mind, and thinks only of being agreeable in the present. 
She has an instinctive consciousness that sentiment will avail her 
nothing with Herman. His assailable side is worldly : aesthetic, 
artistic perhaps, but assuredly not romantic. She lays about her 
at her will with that reckless wit of hers — a mere effervescence of 
the moment, and hardly worth remembrance, but sharp enough 
to be refreshing to jaded spirits. Lord Earlswood, who has ex- 
changed places Lyndhurst for the return, is in raptures. 

" I can't think where you get your ideas," he exclaims ; " they 
are so far-fetched, yet they seem to' come to you so naturally." 

"They grow wild, like other weeds," replies Myra. "I keejj 
no intellectual forcing pit." 

" Most people's clever hits are grown under glass," says Earls- 
wood, quick to take up anybody else's notion. " Their sharpness 
is like the acidity of untimely peaches." 

Miss Belormond thinks her companions might as well talk 
French at once — it would hardly be ruder to employ that un- 
known tongue than to discourse in a jargon like this, which, for 
all she knows, may veil some sarcastic allusions to herself. This 
young lady, who has graduated at a Peckham day-school, is apt 
to be aiHicted with an uneasy suspicion of educated people. 
She, indeed, half believes that education is another name for re- 
fined malice. 

It is only seven o'clock when they reach Hyde Park-corner. 

"Come to my romns and have tea." savs Herman, who has a 
feeling that this holiday of his cannot last too long. 

"0, how nice that would be!" exclaims Miss Belormond, who 
has brightened a little under the influence of a few civil speeches 
from Lord Earlswood. '■ I never feel fit for anything if I go 
without my cup of tea." 

"You shall have your cup of tea, Miss Belormond. You'll 
stop, won't you, Myra ? You can spare half an hour." 

Barely of late has he called her Myra. The shining hazel 
eyes look at him dreamily for a moment or so beiore she 

" Half an hour, and ten minutes more to drive to the theatre ; 
that will leave us ncaily an hour to dress. Yes, I think we could 
manage it ; couldn't -w e, Belormond ? " 

Belormond is sure it can be managed. She has a wonderful 

132 Hostages to Fortune. 

idea of Mr. Westray — a vague notion that an author is a com- 
pendium of everybody else's cleverness, and that this particular 
author is always inwardly laughing at her. She is grateful for 
imy civility from him, and is curious to know what kind of place 
an author lives in. She had supposed the abode of the species 
to be mostly in garrets, when not in the Queen's Bench, and has 
been not a little surprised at discovering that Herman inhabits 

Myra, too, has a gentle curiosity about Herman's lodgings. 
How well she remembers his room at the Vicarage ! — room 
which she has coyly peeped into over her sister's shoulder when 
the proprietor of the chamber was out of the way. Such a 
narrow den ! a mere slip off another room, meant for a dressing 
closet, but used as a study ! A shelf or two of shabby books — 
the father's college books handed down to the son — a battered 
old desk by the open window, a bunch of honeysuckle and roses 
in a brown jar on the window-sill, pipes, gun, fishing-rod, foils, 
and single-sticks in a conglomerated heap in the corner, and a 
collection of Tenniel's cartoons watered against the faded paper. 

The landau pulls up before the door of a tall house facing the 
Green Park, and Herman hands the ladies to the pavement. His 
latch-key opens the door, and they go up a great many stairs. 

" He does live in a garret after all," thinks Belormond, pleased 
with her own sagacity. 

Herman stops on the second-floor landing, however, and opens 
the door of a large airy room, with a bay window and a wide 
substantial balcony— such a balcony to smoke and muse in upon 
warm summer nights, with a glimpse of minster and senate- 
house yonder across the tree-tops to inspire the ambitious 

It is a large room, simply furnished ; not lined with books 
from floor to ceiling, for Westray is too much a man of the 
world to be a book collector. There is a bookcase on either side 
of the fireplace — one containing books of reference only, the 
other just those choicest of the world's classics, to know which is 
to have skimmed the cream of the human intellect. 

The writing-table occupies the centre of the room, and is large 
enough for a solicitor in full practice. A capacious sofa, half a 
dozen delightful arm-chairs, various in shape, age, and material, 
a Sutherland table, and a handy-looking sideboard and cellaret, 
complete the furniture of this apartment, which is study and 
living-room in one. Some fine photographs of Genome's pictures 
adorn the walls. 

" Quite a bachelor's tent," says Myra. " Looks as if it could 
be lifted easily." 

Hostages to Fortune. 133 

Herman orders tea instantly. 

" I daresay the kettle's off the boil," says Miss Belormond. 
" It's so difficult to get boiling water in lodgings ; at least I find 
it so, though I pay three guineas a week and extras. They're 
.quite put out if I want a cup of tea promiscuously." 

" You should get them into better training, Miss Belormond," 
retorts Herman. " I'm always demanding promiscuous cups of 
tea, and the slavey is as brisk as Aladdin's genius." 

The slavey, a sedate-looking housemaid of thirty odd, justifies 
his praise by appearing promptly with tea-tray and urn, and all 
appliances to boot — London cream, strawberries, pound-cake, 
wafer biscuits from the adjacent confectioner's. The Suther- 
land table is drawn into the bay, and they sit down to tea, 
Myra in the post of honour. Herman remembers that afternoon 
tea at Lochwithian with a rather guilty feeling ; yet there can 
be very little harm, if any, in showing this small civility to an 
-old friend* 

The half -hour goes very quickly, and then Herman puts the 
ladies back into the carriage, shakes hands with both, and strolls 
off with Lyndhurst to dine at the Agora. 

" Wonderfully fascinating woman, Mrs. Brandreth," says 
Lyndhurst. " You're a lucky fellow, Westray." 

" Lucky because Mrs. Brandreth is fascinating ? that's a non 

" But you don't mean to say that — that there isn't some under- 
standing — that you are not going to marry her ? " blurts out 
Lyndhurst, with his charming candour. " Somebody told me 
quite a romantic story : that you were engaged years ago, before 
she married Brandreth, and that when you met afterwards, you 
both discovered that you had never ceased to care for each 
other, and so on — the sort of thing they put into novels." 

" It is the misfortune of such a position as Mrs. Brandreth's 
that the world is inventive, and that when a lady's life happens 
to be particularly uneventful, people's imaginations supply the 
void with plausible fiction. Mrs. Brandreth to me is simply Mrs. 
Brandreth ; a very charming woman, whose talents I admire, 
whose force of character I respect." 

" But you're not engaged to her? "Well, that's curious ; I 
thought it was an established fact. Certainly Earlswood lias 
contrived to get her a good deal talked about ; but we, who are 
in a manner behind the scenes, know there's nothing in that." 

" I consider Mrs. Brandreth a woman of perfectly undamaged 
reputation," replies Herman, " if that's what you mean. It 
merely happens that she and I are friends, and not lovers. If 
I had any warmer feeling for her than friendship, there ia 


134 Hostages to Fortune, 

nothing in her past or her present life that would urge me to 
stifle it." 

"That's very generously expressed," says- Lyndhurst. "You 
fellows who write books have such a knack of turning a sen- 
tence. 0, by the way, who was that charming young lady I met 
you with at the Frivolity a month or two ago — a tall girl, digni- 
fied, indeed rather haughty-looking, but with a sort of rustic 
freshness about her ? " 

" That young lady is Miss Morcombe, the daughter of a Welsh 

" Welsh ! Dear me ; I thought they wore conical hats and 
short petticoats." 

_" I believe some of the peasantry do indulge in those eccen- 
tricities, but not in the neighbourhood of Mr. Morcombe's 

" So," thought Lyndhurst, " Mr. Morcombe is a landed gentle- 
man, and that lovely girl has money. Artful card this Westray." 
_ They dine together generously, and Herman, going back to 
his chambers, late at night, feels that he has wasted his day, or, 
in his own stronger language, " given a day to Belial." 


"She is mine own; 
And I as rich in having such a Jewel, 
As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl, 
The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold." 

Herman goes house-hunting soon after that Ascot Cup-day, goes 
in search of the nest that is to shelter his tender dove by and by. 
He explores Chiswick — dear little humble unpretentious Chis- 
wick, which is old still while all the rest of the world is new — 
but Chiswick being limited in its capacities, and having its 
nicest nooks and corners filled, does not offer him just that 
dainty little water-side villa he desires to find ; so he harks back 
to Fulham, and there, not far from Putney bridge, discovers a 
modest dwelling, with a narrow lawn sloping to the Thames ; a 
house once occupied by a famous wit, and which seems to him 
the better for the association, though the wit's life was but a 
marred and broken existence at best. 

Hostages to Fortune. 135 

The house is not especially convenient or well built, but the 
drawing-room and two rooms over, which will do for bedroom 
and boudoir, Herman thinks are pretty. There are windows 
opening on the lawn, a verandah, a balcony above — all those ad- 
juncts which a man looks for, when he ought to be examining 
the kitchen range and inquiring if there is a copper. Herman is 
pleased, and, lest the chance should slip through his fingers, 
takes the house on a repairing lease without delay, his tenancy 
to begin from the midsummer quarter. 

This important step taken, he engages an ancient female of 
the charwoman species to take charge of the house, and goes 
forthwith to Messrs. Molding and Korness, an expensive and 
fashionable firm of decorators and upholsterers, and gives them 
carte-blanche to make his house perfect after its kind. 

"I don't want expensive decoration or furniture," he says, 
thinking himself passing prudent the while. " Let everything 
be of the simplest, but in exquisite taste. As taste is your 
business I shall not interfere unnecessarily. Let the prevailing 
tone of the drawing-room be white and pale sea-green," he 
adds, remembering Kuth's room at Lochwithian. 

The upholsterer's man bows and smiles, and ventures to hope 
he shall give satisfaction. 

" Perhaps you would like to look round, sir, with a view to 
making your own selection," says the man ; " all our goods are 
marked in plain figures ; " as if that made them cheaper. 

Herman acquiesces, and perambulates a thicket of chairs, 
and then a forest of Arabian beds, and then a city of dining- 
tables, and a necropolis of wardrobes, all like family tombs. 

" Dear me, how uninteresting furniture looks when it comes 
to be classified !" he exclaims. " I don't feel capable of choos- 
ing anything. I think I'll send you a rough drawing of the 
style of room I like, and you can carry it out in your own 

The upholsterer is charmed with the suggestion. He sees his 
way to something rather expensive in the way of joinery. 

To a lady's cabriole lounging ohair, in ebonised wood, made 

after your own design . . . £16 16 

To a gentleman's Etruscan do. do., cabriole legs, also made to 
own design 17 17 

This is the kind of entiy which presents itself to the upholsterer's 
mental vision as he bows his customer out. Herman thinks of 
his loose thousands, and resolves that his darling's nest shall be 
as bright as taste and money can make it. She shall not be 
made to feel that she has wasted herself on a pauper, or that 

136 Hostages to Fortune. 

she has lost too much in refusing Vivian Hetheridge's wealth 
and status. 

He writes to tell her that "our house" is taken, and that he 
will come to Lochwithian next week if he may. He turns his 
back upon London one fair July morning, gladly as a boy let 
loose from school. He has sent Myra Brandreth the first two 
acts of a comedy, but has not seen her since the Cup-day, and 
he reserves the final act and the conclusion of his novel as work 
to be done in the tranquil atmosphere of Lochwithian. He will 
have his working hours there, he thinks ; an hour or two be- 
tween breakfast and luncheon sometimes, an hour or two stolen 
from the night. 

How sweet the hills and valleys seem to him, when Shrews- 
bury is left behind, and the placid fertility of Midland landscape 
gives place to romantic Wales — wooded hills, winding ttreams, 
dry some of them in this peerless summer time, one but a bare 
bed of bleached pebbles gleaming whitely athwart brushwood 
and saplings ! He remembers the last time he travelled by this 
single line, piercing its iron way through the cloven heart of the 
hills, and always ascending at a very palpable elevation, till the 
air blows fresher and keener, and he seems to enter a purer 
world. He was going back to London smoke and London 
worldliness on that occasion, going downwards, and Editha 
Morcombe was no more to him than a lovely and noble-minSed 
woman, utterly remote from his life. 

Just in the sultriest hour of the sultry day the train, reduced 
to half a dozen carriages of Tenbyites, slackens its pace, and 
comes slowly past the sprinkling of labouring men's cottages 
and smart modern villas which forms the outskirts of Llan- 
drysak. There is the little station — refreshment-room, book- 
stall, all en regie ; the two brisk porters, ready to carry your 
luggage to the loftiest eerie among the surrounding hills ; the 
placid station-master, who looks as if he had never heard of a 
railway accident ; and last, not least, the entire population of 
Llandrysak turned out to witness the arrival of the train. There 
they sit in an awe-inspiring row, as many at least as the benches 
will accommodate, the rest standing, and all glaring at the new- 

Herman regards these aborigines no more than if they had 
been so many rows of cabbages in the station-master's garden, 
for yonder above the boundary of the station he sees a sociable 
and pair, with a clerical gentleman sitting in front with the 
coachman, and a lady seated behind ; a lady who smiles at him 
from under the shade of an Indian silk umbrella, a lady to whom 
his heart goes forth with a glad bound. 

Hostages to Fortune, 137 

The clerical gentleman, scrambling down as the train stops, 
reveals the features of Mr. Petherick, the incumbent of Loch- 
withian, and is on the platform by the time Herman has alighted, 
ready to help in looking after the luggage. A large portmanteau, 
dressing-bag, and despatch-box are speedily selected from the 
varieties of property disgorged by the van, and hoisted into the 
front of the sociable, filling the space lately occupied by Mr. 
Petherick. Herman leaves that amiable parson the entire re- 
sponsibility of the luggage, while he hurries to Editha, and clasps 
the dear hand, almost too deeply moved for speech. Forgotten 
in that moment every thought or hope that is not of her or for 
her. How lovely the scene appears to Trim — the circle of hills, 
the warmth and glow of the summer afternoon, the distant farm- 
houses here and there, white against the green, the utter peace- 
fulness of all things around him ! The quiet of the landscape 
steals into his breast like balm, and as he takes his place beside 
Editha he has that reposeful bliss which comes to us sometimes 
in a happy dream — some vision in which the dead return and the 
days of our youth are renewed. 

'' Perhaps it would be better to put the portmanteau behind, 
Editha, if you don't mind it," says the brisk voice of Mr. Pethe- 
rick, who feels that he may be rather in the way should he 
intrude his earthly presence upon these two dreamers. Editha 
looks up at him with a gentle smile of unconsciousness, not in 
the least aware what he means, just at this particular moment 
having lost the understanding of her mother tongue save when 
spoken by Herman. So Mr. Petherick shunts the portmanteau 
from the box to the bod} r of the sociable, and resumes his seat 
by the coachman, leaving Herman and Editha alone in their 

" How good of you to meet me ! " exclaims Herman. 
" How good of you to come ever so much earlier than yo* 
promised ! " responds Editha ; after which original remarks they 
lapse into fatuous silence for some moments, contemplating each 
other's faces as the sociable rolls past the outskirts of Llan- 
drysak, and crosses a wide expanse of common where the furze 
bushes outshine the Field of Cloth-of-gold, and tiny pools of 
water gleam like jewels in the sun. The lark sings high above 
them, carolling as for very gladness at their reunion. 

" How pleased Nature seems to see us together again ! " says 
Herman, with a happy laugh. " There seems a note wanting in 
the harmony of the universe when we two are parted." 

"Do you really mean that you have been so foolish as to take 
a house, Herman, or was that part of your letter a joke ? " 
" A juke for which I am to pay a hundred and twenty pounds 

138 Hostages to Fortune. 

a year, love, to say nothing of taxes — a joke which Molding and 
Korness, of Oxford-street, are going to furnish. It will be ready 
by our wedding-day in September, so if we get tired of Switzer- 
land sooner than we suppose we shall, our home will be swept 
and garnished for our reception." 

" Our home ! how strange that sounds, Herman ! " 

" Sweeter than strange, dear." 

" But you talk of our wedding as if it were settled for Sep- 

" Isn't it ? I thought we came to that understanding." 

" No, indeed ; I was to have at least a year at home with Buth 
— time enough for her to accustom herself to the idea of our 

" There is to be no such thing as separation. You and I will 
often run down to Lochwithian for a week or two, if your father 
will allow us." 

" As if papa would not be glad to have us ! " 

" And your sister can come to us at least twice a year. Travel- 
ling is made easy nowadays, even for an invalid." 

" Kuth has been so good ! " exclaims Editha. 

In this first half-hour of reunion they are both inclined to he 
discursive, not finishing up one subject thoroughly, but starting 
off at a tangent every now and then. 

" How good, dearest ? " 

" Why, dear, just at first the thought of our engagement made 
her rather unhappy. She is so much attached to Mr. Hetheridge, 
and you, of course, are a comparative stranger. She asked me 
so many questions about you, Herman — your principles, your 
ideas upon serious subjects — questions I hardly knew how to 
answer. We seem so seldom to have talked seriously." 

" My love, we are not a convocation of Churchmen, or a Quakers' 
meeting, or an assembly of Scottish Presbyterians. What would 
you have us talk about but ourselves and our own happiness ? " 

" But I told her how good you are, Herman — how full of noble 
ambition and refined feelings ; and then that last book of yours 
— that quite won her heart. So, little by little, she grew recon- 
ciled to the idea of our marriage." 

" What ineffable goodness ! " cries Herman, somewhat piqued 

It is not pleasant to be received with stinted welcome, even 
into the best of families. 

" Herman, how unkindly you say that ! Yon must not 
Bpeak of Buth with a sneer if you love me." 

" If I love you, little one ! " he echoes tenderly, drawing her 
nearer to him (that good parson Petherick is placidly contem- 
plative of the landscape). " If I love you ! There are no ifs in 

Hostages to Fortune. 139 

such love as mine. But it's hardly a pleasant thing to learn that 
one is to be received as the serpent that crept into Eden. Is it 
Hetheridge's old family or large estate which has won your 
sister's heart ? " 

"Neither, dear. She likes him because he is so good and true." 

" And she harbours a lurking notion that I must needs, be bad 
and false — an incarnation of city vices as opposed to rustic 
virtues. I think you would have grown weary of Mr. Hethe- 
ridge's provincial perfection, my pet, in the lasting tete-a-tete 
of matrimony." 

" Let us talk about the house, Herman. How pretty it must 

Hereupon follows a vivid description of the Fulham villa : 
the river — the clumsy old wooden bridge — Putney church, grave 
and gray — the episcopal palace with its shady garden — the 
secluded quiet of the place. 

" I have had such a happy idea about the dining-room," says 
Herman. " You remember the scene in Hemlock, the Pompeian 
triclinium ? " 

" Perfectly." 

" Well, I have told Molding and Korness to make our hall 
and dining-room Pompeian. The success of Hemlock- will very 
well balance any extravagance in the suggestion." 

" What a charming idea ! " exclaims Editha ; " but isn't it 
wrong to spend so much money upon furnishing, Herman? We 
are not going to be rich." 

" My love, do you remember what Dr. Johnson said about 
Thrale's brewery, when the business was being sold ? ' We are 
not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality 
of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice.' Do you hold 
literature as something less than beer, and are you going to limit 
my power of increasing our income ? You do not know what 
strength I shall have to labour, dear, when I have given hostages 
to Fortune." 

" Dear Herman, how brave you are ! " she cries admiringly, as 
if he stood on the topmost rung of a spaling-ladder in a storm of 
shot and shell ; " but the humblest home you could make for me 
would be just as dear as the finest house your successful work 
can win. I want to be your helpmate, not a burden to you." 

They are driving up to the porch of Lochwithian by this time. 
The old dogs lie basking in the sunshine ; the old-fashioned 
flower-beds are full of bloom. The fishpond and the fountain, 
the crumbling old red walls where the peaches and apricots are 
ripening, smile at him as in welcome. Every familiar feature 
of the place is the same as when he saw it first just a year ago j 

140 Hostages to Fortune. 

the only difference is that the Editha of last year was a stately 
stranger about whom he thought with vague wonder, while the 
Editha of to-day is his very own — his wife that is to be. 

" Darling," he whispers with a little gush of emotion, " I am 
so happy when I think of last year and this." 

" Come to see Ruth," says Editha directly they have alighted. 
She leads him straightway up the shallow old oaken staircase, 
past the newel over which he remembers her looking down at 
him when they parted, along the shadowy corridor where stand 
old blue-delf jars crammed with rose-leaves, and into the white 
panelled parlour where the invalid sister reclines, just as he saw 
her first, in spotless cambric morning robe, with a knot of 
coloured ribbon here and there among the soft white drapery. 

" He has come, Ruth," cries Editha, as if this arrival formally 
announced by letter two days ago, were something wonderful. 

" I am very glad," replies Ruth softly, in that gentle voice of 
hers which has a touch of pathos at times. How do you do, 
Herman ? Welcome to Lochwithian, brother. We are brother 
and sister henceforward, are we not ? bound to each other by our 
common love for Editha." 

"I hope to be not all unworthy to claim a brother's name," 
says Herman, kissing the hand that lies trustingly in his. He 
feels that, in his character of serpent, he has been received with 
no small indulgence. " I fear you must hate me for coming here 
to steal your darling," he says humbly. 

Ruth's grave eyes seem to be looking him through and 
through, perusing all the flaws and specks and knots in the grain 
of his nature. 

" I am not quite selfish enough for that," she answers sadly, 
" though it has been one of my prayers that Editha's home and 
mine should never lie far apart. But my chief thought and 
desire must always be for her happiness. If it is happier for her 
that we should live apart, so be it. I am content," 

Editha and Ruth have clasped hands, the younger girl kneeling 
by her sister's couch. 

" We are never to be long apart, dearest," says Editha. " I am 
coming home to see you and papa at least three times a year, 
and you are coming to us twice in the year ; that will leave short 
intervals of separation." 

" Our home will be yours, Ruth," says Herman. " It shall not 
be our fault if it is not made pleasant to you." 

" I will come to you some day, if God gives me strength," 
answers Ruth, her eyes clouded with tears, but a smile on the 
sensitive mouth. " It will be sweet to me to see my pet in her 
new home — to see her haunv and beloved." 

Hostages to Fortune. 141 

After this all doleful thoughts are dismissed. They talk of 
the house at Fulham— the Pompeian hall and dining-room ; the 
drawing-room, which is to be furnished like a room in a Dutch 
jiii'ture, after a drawing of Herman's ; garden small, but 
sheltered by a few good old trees, and altogether perfect in its 

" A garden where we can take our coffee on summer evenings, 
Editha," adds Herman, "and where I can lie at your feet thinking 
out my work, while you watch the boats gliding past, silent as 
shadows, on the starlit river." 

How sweet it all sounds, and to Euth's ear how vague ! Editha 
gazes up at her lover with ineffable rapture — her poet lover ; for 
to her mind he is no less than a poet — a creature apart, gifted 
with an unsurpassable birthright. She believes that every 
feeling of his, every fancy, every desire is of a finer texture than 
the feelings, fancies, and desires of ordinary mankind. The 
bitter truth that in common things your poet is apt to be no better 
than common men has yet to be revealed to her. 

Ruth thinks of honest, earnest, single-minded Vivian, and 
wonders whether a man who lives by the cultivation of his fancy, 
and must in some measure be the slave of his fancy, whose 
temper is irritated by a perpetual struggle to excel, will ever 
make as good a husband as that simple-hearted Radnorshire 
squire. Will the time ever come when either of these two — all 
in all to each other to-day, and seeing nothing in life beyond — 
will find a something wanting in their union, a sense of some- 
thing missed, something that might have been, and is not ? That 
" might have been " is the curse of your poetic temperament. 
The lovers leave Ruth and wander out into the garden by and 
by, and through the great stable-yard, and across an ancient 
orchard to the ruins, and Herman renews his acquaintance with 
scenes and objects in which he has henceforward a personal in- 
terest. They stroll together by the narrow river, where the 
forget-me-nots are blooming just as they bloomed last year ; and 
they look up at the solemn hills which have outlasted Loch- 
withian Priory, and taste that utter and perfect happiness 
which only such lovers know — lovers whose future lies before 
them smooth as some placid lake shining under the summer sun. 

The Squire receives his future son-in-law heartily, not because 
he is reconciled to the match — which he is not — but because he 
is too hospitable a man to be otherwise than cordial to his guest. 
One of the prettiest rooms in the Priory has been allotted to 
Herman — a room at one end of the rambling old house, with an 
oriel window overlooking the shrubbery and the church in the 
hollow beneath. 

142 Hostages to Fortune. 

" I shall hear the bell ringing for early service of a morning, 
and be reminded that there are God-fearing men and women in 
this out-of-the-way corner of the land. I wish I could follow 
their footsteps and feel that I was doing good for my soul," 
Herman says to himself with a sigh, a*s he looks out of his win- 
dow before dressing for dinner. 

Time glides by with a divine quiet at Lochwithian. There is a 
dinner at the Priory soon after his arrival, and Herman is presented 
to the county f amilies resident within visiting distance. Other 
dinners follow to which Herman is bidden, and he feels that he 
is received and accepted as Editha's future husband ; but the 
dinner parties hardly make any break in these halcyon days of 
his life. They are very quiet gatherings, and he is generally 
allowed to have Editha all to himself for the greater part of the 
time, so that the dinner parties in a manner resolve themselves 
into delicious assemblies of two. Editha and he are seated apart 
at an open window ; or they stroll out into the moonlit garden 
to look at the roses ; or they linger in a conservatory because the 
rooms are warm. Everybody is indulgent to them, and they are 
petted and humoured as if they were children. 

" Eather humiliating, isn't it, darling, that our condition should 
be so obvious to every one V " says Herman ; whereupon Editha 
laughs and blushes, and rearranges the spray of maiden-hair 
which she pinned in his coat in the hall at Lochwithian. She 
feels even in this small matter of providing a flower for his button- 
hole that she is beginning her duties as a wife. 

They are about together all through the happy summer days ; 
sometimes no farther than the garden or the ruins — sometimes 
riding with the Squire— sometimes climbing the hills or exploring 
distant villages with Mr. Petherick and his trusty dogs for their 
companions. One day they spend the sultry afternoon quite alone 
on the bank of the Pennant, which at one romantic spot rushes 
like a cataract between steep walls of moss-greened crag — rocky 
boulders in whose clefts and crevices tender ferns grow thick and 
green. There is a narrow and somewhat perilous wooden bridge 
across this torrent, which is one of the features of the neigh- 

Here Editha and Herman have seated themselves in the sultry 
after-luncheon hours, sheltered by a tangled mass of greenery, 
in which oak, ash, and alder, birch and sycamore, are mixed 
together anyhow, for beneath the crags there is abundance 
of dark rich loam in which the gnarled roots find their sus- 

Editha is seated on a low bank, hemming a child's pinafore — 
those busy fingers o^ Jiavo nlnilm bslf tho oottno-n nbiklrpn about 

Hostages to Fortune. 143 

Lochwithkn. Herman lies at her feet, looking up at little flecks 
of warm blue sky sinning among the tangled leaves. The sun 
steeps that summer roof and sheds a greenish light, as through 
the stained glass of a minster window. 

Herman yawns and then sighs — the j r awn expresses the bliss- 
fulness of repose, the sigh is in self-reproach. 

" Not a line written since I came to Lochwithian," he says', 
" and I meant to be so industrious." 

" I try to leave your mornings free always, Herman ; but you 
come strolling out into the garden or down to the village just 
when I fancy you are so busy." 

" Elective affinity, dearest. I find myself drawn towards you 
whether I will or not. I open my desk, and dip my pen in the 
ink, and wait for an idea. But when the idea comes it is only 
Editha. "What is Editha doing ? I must go and look f or Editha. 
That is the nearest approach to an idea that I can dig out of 
my inner consciousness. The fact is, I am too happy to be 
industrious. If you do not consent to our being married very 
soon, Editha-, I shall be a ruined man." 

" You expect to be not quite so happy when we are married," 
says Editha, smiling at the little pinafore. 

. " No, love, but to be less tumultuously blest. There will be a 
placid certainty — the knowledge that you are mine till the end of 
my days, the sense that our life is laid down in a groove, and 
that we have nothing to do but travel smoothly on. When we 
come back from Switzerland, and I settle down in my own 
little den at Fulham — my books of reference at my elbow, my 
publisher getting impatient — I shall write as if by steam. Here 
every bird's song is an invocation to the spirit of idleness. Shall 
it be the fifteenth of September, love ? " he pleads, raising him- 
self upon his elbow, and bringing himself nearer Editha, so near 
that he is in some danger of having his countenance wounded 
by that busy needle. 

He is talking of his wedding-day, which has been a subject of 
discussion between them for some time. 

" Dear Herman, you know that I want one more year at home," 
replies Edith seriously ; " I want to spend another year with 
Buth, and among the poor people I have known so long. I want 
to wind up my life here deliberately, and not snap the thread 
suddenly as if I had grown tired of home and those who love me." 

"Another year! My dear Editha, be reasonable. Think of 
the house taken and furnished, rent running on, taxes, furniture 
spoiling, walls mildewing, gilding tarnishing." 

" It was foolish of you to take a house so hurriedly," gays 
Editha reproachfully. 

144 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Foolish to build my nest after St. Valentine's-day ? Editha, 
am I to think that a few old women, affecting piety with an eye 
to the loaves and fishes — a flock of drawling nasal school- 
children, who know more of the multiplication table than their 
limited finances will ever bring into play — are to come between 
you and me, and doom me to a year of unsettled and soli- 
tary existence ? " 

" I am thinking of Euth as well as of my pensioners and 

" Put Euth out of the question. We have settled that Euth is 
to lose very little of your society after you are married. I wish 
you'd put down that pinafore, Editha ; the click-click of the 
needle disturbs the serenity of the atmosphere." 

Editha obeys without a word. She is likely to be that traitor 
in the camp of strong-minded womanhood, an obedient wife. 
Herman takes the industrious hand prisoner, and holds it during 
the rest of his discourse. 

" Dear love, why should we not be married soon ? My life is 
broken, disorganised, out of joint, till we begin the world to- 
gether in our new home." 

A little more persuasion, and she yields the point. Euth has 
told her that, if she is sure of her lover's worthiness, there is 
nothing to be gained by a long engagement. Her father is in- 
different, seeing^that she is determined to marry Herman Westray, 
whether the marriage be soon or late. Of herself, unaided, she 
is not strong enough to oppose Herman's wish ; so it is settled 
that the marriage is to take place on the fifteenth of September, 
which, the almanac informs them, falls on a Thursday. They are 
at the end of July already, but the question of her trousseau not 
being paramount with Editha, it does not occur to her to protest 
that six weeks are much too short for preparation, from a dress- 
maker's point of view. She has no idea of spending half her 
small capital in finery. Her plentifully furnished wardrobe, her 
stock of rare old lace, inherited from her mother, will need no 
large additions to be ample for the requirements of a young 
matron. Very far from her thoughts are wedding finery and 
wedding festivities. She is inclined to search deeper into the 
beginning of things. 

" Herman, what first made you think of me ? " she asks, look- 
ing at his upturned face as he leans on his elbow, his head 
thrown back a little, his eyes lifted to hers. "Our lives lie so 
far apart." 

" Perhaps that was the very fact that set me thinking of 
you," he answers, quite willing to be questioned, rather pleased 
indeed to analyse his feelings. " You came into mv life like a 

Hostages to Fortune. 145 

creature oat of a purer and better world, and my heart went to 
you naturally. If I had met you at a ball, just in the beaten 
way of society, I might have thought you the handsomest woman 
in the room, but I should hardly have known you to be the one 
woman among all womankind whose love was best worth 

"I don't quite understand how you were to find that out here," 
Editha replies, smiling at his praise. " First, I am a very ordi- 
nary person ; and next, you saw very little of me." 

" I heard your praises from others, and I saw you in your 
home, with your sister — the giver of gladness in your narrow 
circle. I saw and heard enough to send me away with your 
image in my heart. I did not surrender myself too readily ; I 
made believe to myself that I was not in love with you ; but the 
book I wrote last winter was one long tete-a-tete with you, and I 
was perfectly wretched till we met again." 

" Herman," Editha says gravely, coming to that one awful 
question which no woman can refrain from asking — though the 
answer, if honestly given, is sure to make her miserable — " did 
you ever care for any one else ? Your first love — to whom was 
that given, and why did it end unhappily ? " 

Herman winces slightly at the question. 

"First love, Editha, is the offspring of fancy, and has its 
source in the brain rather than the heart. First love is like one's 
first champagne — a transient intoxication. Mine came to a very 
prosaic end. The lady jilted me, dismissed me without a day's 

'•Then she must have been unworthy of you." 

" Not unworthy of me, perhaps, but unworthy of my regret. 
I was wise enough to discover that in time, and wasted none upon 
her," adds Herman carelessly. 

Editha is grateful to him for his candour, and yet a little 
disappointed, for it would have been so much sweeter if Herman 
could have told her that she herself was his first love. 

'• Were you very much in love with the lady ? " she asks, 
taking up the little pinafore again, and smoothing down the hem 
with extreme nicety. 

"Overhead and ears; but it was calf-love remember. The 
girl was accomplished, diabolically clever ; not absolutely beauti- 
ful, but graceful beyond measure. Just the kind of girl to 
bewitch an undergraduate. I thought her simply the most 
charming creature I had ever seen or dreamed of. We had been 
children together, and one day she beamed upon me suddenly as 
a woman." 

" You had known each other from childhood I Then she must 

146 Hostages to Fortune. 

have loved you. Perhaps she was influenced by others when she 
jilted you," hazards Editha, slow to believe that anyone could 
voluntarily play him false. 

" Possibly." 

" Did she marry for money ? " 

" The man she married had expectations, I believe, but they 
were never realised. He died a few years after his marriage, and 
left his widow in very indifferent circumstances." 

" Have you ever seen her since then ? " 

This is trying. Herman digs his elbow into a little hillock of 
moss, and -endeavours to look unconcerned. 

" Yes, I have met her, once in a way, in society." 

" But not often ? " 

" No ; our lives lie far apart. Editha," he adds, solemnly, 
seeing the cloud upon her face, " be jealous neither of the past 
nor of the future. No rival can ever come between us two." 

"Are you quite sure of that, Herman? " 

" As sure as that I live and hold your hand in mine," he 
answers, clasping it fondly. 

" Because, if there is the shadow of doubt in your mind, leave 
me my old life. When we are married, and I have left home 
and father and sister, and everybody and everything I have loved 
and lived for until now, for your sake, I shall be unreasonably 
exacting perhaps, and ask for more than you can give, if you can- 
not give me all your heart." 

" It is yours, love — yours and no other's. It went forth to 
you gladly, as a bird flies to meet the summer. It is yours for 
ever and ever — the for ever of man's brief span." 

" Mine in God's for ever, I trust," she answers solemnly. " I 
cannot imagine a heaven in which we shall not see and know 
our friends again." 

Herman kisses the fair white hand for sole reply : and they are 
happy ; fondly believing in each other and a love unassailable by- 
time or change. 


" So, she leaning on her husband's arm, they turned homeward by a 
rosy path which tlie gracious sun struck out for them in its setting. 
And O there are days in this life worth life and worth death. And 
what a bright old song it is, that ' 'tis love, 'tis love, 'tis love, that 
makes the world go round.' " 

It is the last week, the last day of Editha's home life. All 
that she has loved and tended and created anc\ o.amA fny in that 

Hostages to Fortune. 147 

placid circle of home is to be surrendered at eleven o'clock to- 
morrow morning in favour of Herman Westray. She may come 
back to Lochwithian Priory — she means to return thither often — ■ 
but it ■will be as a guest and in some measure a stranger. She is 
touched with sadness on this bright September morning as she 
counts her loss, wandering slowly round the old gardens alone, 
saying good-bye to every rose-tree and all the familiar flowers 
in the humble little greenhouses that have been paid for with her 
pocket-money and built after her own design. To all intents 
and purposes she has been sole mistress of Lochwithian 
Priory for the last five years, Kuth being no more than 
adviser, and the Squire content to rub along easily, just able to 
meet the demands of his bailiff, who hungers for machinery on 
the home-farm, and is eager to follow the march of agricultural 

Here, by the fountain on whose margin they sat when first he 
came to the Priory, Herman finds his betrothed. She is looking 
at the restless gold-fish dreamily, with a cluster of tea-roses in 
her hand. 

" Dear love, I have been looking for you everywhere. What, 
the waterworks turned on already, Editha ? I thought young 
ladies reserved the supply for the wedding morning." 

" I have been saying good-bye to the garden, Herman," she 
answers, smiling through her tears. 

" You should have made it au revoir, dearest." 

"It will never be my garden any more, Herman." 

" And for sole exchange I give you a lawn about the size of a 
tablecloth, with one immemorial elm, a weeping- willow, a tree or 
two of the coniferous tribe, an ancient mulberry in the corner, 
and a pink horse-chestnut. A remarkable collection, I think, for 
a suburban garden." 

" I feel sure that it is lovely," she answers, looking across the 
valley to the steep green slopes beyond, with one bold hill that 
seems to touch the sky. "It will be so nice to have the river 
flowing past our lawn ; but I am afraid that just at first I shall 
miss the hills. They are a part of my life, somehow. One of 
the first things I can remember is standing on the top of that 
green peak looking down at the Priory, all the windows shining 
in the evening sun, and thinking that the house was lighted for 
a grand party. I was quite a little child, and had strayed out of 
the garden and climbed the hill by myself, and was half way 
down again before my nurse found me." 

' : Enterprising little soul ! We will take a holiday in the hill 
country twice a year, Editha. You shall not suffer nostalgia. 
And, remember, I am going to introduce you to the monarch of 

148 Hostages to Fortune. 

mountains, so you needn't weep for these Cambrian ant-hills. 
What are you going to do with yourself all day ? " 

Herman has only returned from London the day before yester- 
day, and is residing on this occasion under Mr. Petherick's 
hospitable roof, but contrives nevertheless to spend most of his 
time with Editha. 

" I must say good-bye to the people at Llanmoel." 

"Is that the eccentric little settlement at the base of that great 
hill you showed me the other day ? " 


" Let us set off at once, then, and make a day of it." 

" But I am afraid it will tire you, Herman. It is a long walk, 
and there are several people I want to see. And then Mr. Pethe- 
rick may think it unkind of you to desert him." 

" That best of men has given me my liberty till we meet at 
your father's dinner-table. And as to being tired of a long 
day with you, love — why, it will be an instalment of our honey- 

They set out together in the fresh bright noon-tide, Herman 
carrying a good-sized basket full of keepsakes for Editha's 
pensioners — young women she has taught as children when no 
more than a child herself ; old people she has ministered to 
almost from her babyhood, when she went with her nurse to 
cany small comforts to the poorest among the peasantry, fair as 
a child-angel to their delighted eyes. 

Their way lies for the most part through meadows — meadows 
of all shapes and sizes — with high tangled hedgerows and steep 
ferny banks, which remind Herman of his native Devonshire, and 
just a little of that summer day when Myra Clitheroe promised 
to forego fame for his sake. From the last of the meadows they 
emerge on the bank of the Pennant, cross a rustic suspension 
bridge, and enter a hilly road, little more than a lane as to width, 
and as stony as it is picturesque. 

They talk for a long time of Herman's books, past, present, 
and to come, in which Editha is intensely interested. She will 
not be one of those wives who prefer the Family Herald to 
their husband's masterpieces, or who look upon a new novel from 
the marital pen as the source of a new drawing-room carpet. 
She questions him closely about the shadows of his brain, and 
he finds that his creations are more real to her than they are even 
to himself. 

" You must have been deeply in love that first time, Herman, 
or you could never have written your first novel," she says, that 
first romance being a record of passionate disappointed love. 

" My dearest, I am happy to say I never committed forgery, 

Hostages to Fortune. 149 

yet the critics were good enough to pronounce that the fraudulent 
banker's clerk in my second novel is very true to life." 

Editha shakes her head dubiously. She is not able to explain 
her convictions, but she feels that the mechanism of that second 
novel is art, while the passion of love and anger in the first is 

lie tells her the plan of his new book— the story which is half 
written, and which he stands pledged to complete before Christ- 
mas — and finds it very pleasant to confide his ideas to a 
thoroughly sympathetic companion. He is not a man prone to 
impart his fancies, but he finds a new habit growing upon him 
since he and Editha have been plighted lovers. He is not content 
nowadays till he has told her his last inspiration. 

They loiter on the way a good deal, and it is two o'clock when 
they ascend the stony lane. There is another meadow to cross 
before they come to Llanmoel, which secluded village is not on 
any particular road, but seems to have been dropped down any- 
how among the fields. A meadow brings them to the church, 
which in architectural pretensions might be a barn, and which 
modestly hides itself under an enormous yew — a yew so gigantic 
and intrusive that one great branch has grown close up to the 
church wall, and has had to be lopped lest it should knock down 
that rural temple. 

Grazing placidly among the lopsided tombstones, Herman and 
Editha find a donkey, evidently belonging to some privileged 
freeholder, and serenely indifferent to their approach. The 
clumsy old porch of plaster and woodwork, ivy-grown, with a 
Norman arch over the church-door, and a little bit of quaintly 
carven stonework, whereon blunt-nosed angels are depicted, the 
narrow loophole windows in the rough-cast wall, the square 
wooden tower, are all very much like the little church down by 
the Shaky Bridge ; and Herman, not being archasologically given, 
does not desire to survey the interior of the fane. So they cross 
the churchyard, and go out of a little gate which brings them to 
a lane leading to nowhere in particular, a row of one-story 
cottages, thatched and in the last stage of decay, a forge, a,nd a 
wooden building turned endways to the lane, which Herman 
supposes to be a dilapidated barn, until, looking up, he perceives 
a sign hanging from the angle nearest the road, and is thus made 
aware that it is " The New Inn. M. A. Gredby. Licensed to 
sell beer, spirits, tobacco, &c." 

M. A. Gredby is one of Editha's pensioners ; so Herman is in- 
troduced to the interior of the New Inn, which consists, or appears 
to consist, of the public room and a back kitchen. A corkscrew 
staircase squeezed inio_a. corner aue-e-eHts sleeDine- acoommoda- 

150 Hostages to Fortune. 

tion in the sloping roof. The public room is low and dark, the 
ceiling encumbered by timbers ponderous enough to sustain the 
upper chambers of a mediaeval fortress. One side of the apart- 
ment is swallowed up by the open hearth and chimney ; but, as 
M. A. Gredby's customers are in the habit of sitting in the 
chimney-corners, and making much of the fire even in summer- 
time, this is by no means lost space. Two old men in smock- 
frocks are seated on a bench inside the chimney to-day, smoking 
long clay pipes and looking at the fire. 

The apartment, small in itself, and rendered smaller by its 
architectural characteristics, is farther reduced by an overplus of 
furniture — ancient high-backed Windsor chairs, .ponderous tables, 
and a horse-hair-covered sofa of clumsy proportions ; garniture 
pendent from the cross-beams in the way of onions, bacon, and a 
netful of apples. The one latticed window is obscured by a 
variety of small wares designed to attract the eye of local child- 
hood, but which seem to have missed their end, as the sugar- 
sticks have the pale and clouded look of advanced age, the hard- 
bake has faded from brown to gray, the black-jack has oozed 
through its paper covering, and the battledores display more fly- 
marks than parchment. 

Into this dark little den Herman peers wonderingly, while Mrs. 
Gredby pours forth her rapturous greeting. She is not a native 
of the district, and takes a pride in declaring the fact. 

" To think that you should come to see me, Miss Editha, to-day 
of all days, and your wedding to-morrow ! Yes, I saw it in the 
paper, and I means to walk over, if I drops on the way, to see 
you in your wedding-dress. And I've been trying to persuade 
my old gentleman ; but, lor, he hasn't no spirit, he hasn't, and 
says he can't walk so far. He's a Welshman, you see, and he 
hasn't the spirit for it. I walks into Llandrysak and back again 
every market day, and makes light of it, though I shall be sixty- 
fl ve next birthday. But then I was born at Cheltenham ; I 
d>n't belong to this place." 

Mrs. Gredby has lived at the New Inn for the last forty years, 
but has not yet got over her contenpt for Llanmoel, which is 
only second in degree to her contempt for her old gentleman. 

A grunt of acquiescence or negation from one of the old men 
smoking in the chimney-corner identifies him with the subject 
of Mrs. Gredby's discourse. 

" Ah, you may grant and grumble," exclaims that lady, " but 
if you had a hounce o' spirit, you'd walk over to Lochwithian to 
see Miss Editha in her wedding-dress." 

" I seed her father married," mumbles the old man, without 
taking his pips out of Ha _moutk .; J^&4§i'li *~* y ■"-«' - uie - I see( ^ 

Hostages to Fortune. 151 

her mother buried ; that was a rare sight, that was — sixteen 
murning curches. That'll last my time. Miss has got my bless- 
ing wherever she goes ; but I ain't got strength for no more sight- 

" I've brought Mr. Westray, the gentleman I'm going to marry, 
to see you," says Editha. 

" And a fine-grown gent he is too," exclaims Mrs. Gredby ; 
" but, without offence to him, I wish he'd been Mr. Hetheridge. 
" I'm no Welshwoman, thank God ; if I was, I daresay I should 
take it more to heart that you're not going to marry a Welshman. 
But I do wish it had been Mr. Hetheridge — such a noble, fresh- 
coloured young gentleman — and that you'd been going to settle 
among us." 

Editha blushes crimson, and Herman feels that his foot is not 
on his native heather, and that his name is a matter of indiffer- 
ence to Mrs. Gredby. 

"Mr. Westray is a very famous gentleman in London," 
says Editha ; "he writes books which people admire very much." 
" Tracks ? " inquires Mrs Gredby, somewhat scornfully. 
" No, not tracts." 

" I'm glad of that. There's too many Methodies in this part 
of the country ; they're always pestering with their blessed 
tracks. I likes my Bible as I likes my drop of spirits — neat. I 
don't care about having Scripture chopped into little bits and 
mixed up with other people's notions." 

"That reminds me, Mrs. Gredby, that I've brought you 
a Bible for a keepsake, and a couple of silver spoons for you and 
Mr. Gredby, so that you may think of me sometimes when you 
drink your tea." 

A small black teapot among the ashes on the hearth suggests 
that Mrs. Gredby is a confirmed tea-drinker. 

" Bless your kind heart, miss, we don't want nothin' to remind 
us of you. We shall think of you often enough when you're 
settled up in London, which I'm told has growed into a very fine 
town, with a numbankmint and a wiadux, though not so genteel 
as my native place — Cheltenham. We shall think of you, Miss 
Editha, never fear." 

Editha extracts the Bible and the teaspoons from a variety of 
neat little packages in the basket. Both gifts are received with 
rapture, but it is clear that the teaspoons go nearest to "Mrs. 
Gredby's heart. The Gredby initials — man and wife — have been 
engraved on each spoon. 

" I never owned a silver teaspoon before? Miss Editha," says 
the matron, " though I come of a very respectable f ambly. My 
mother had six teas and fmir riUb rmal .silver, with King George 

152 Hostages to Fortune. 

and the leper's head on them, besides a liom with his fore-pawr 
liftedup, and a deal of ornamentation ; but my eldest brother 
came into them, with the rest of the property, as heir-at-law, and 
kep' 'em, set out among the glass and chaney on his cheffaneer, 
till things went wrong with him, being a master carpenter in a 
small way, and the spoons was murtgaged to his creditors." 

Mrs. Gredby's old gentleman crawls feebly out of the chimney- 
corner to behold and admire the spoons, which he turns over in 
his horny palm as if they were natural curiosities. 

After this it is time to say good-bye, and Mrs. Gredby dissolves 
into tears. 

" I hope you wouldn't think it a liberty if I was to ask leaf to 
kiss you, Miss Editha, having knowd you from a child," she says 
pathetically ; and Editha submits to be kissed by the proprietress 
of the New Inn, who doesn't often taste butcher's meat — the 
nearest butcher living three miles off — and who makes up for 
that deprivation by a copious use of onions. Herman, suffering 
sympathetic torture, makes a wry face during the operation. 

"And now," says Mrs. Gredby, making a dart at the little black 
pot, " you must have a cup 'o tea and a bit of currant cake after 
your walk." 

Editha protests that she has not time to take refreshment, but 
the energetic M. A. Gredby snatches some cups and saucers from 
one of the numerous shelves which encumber the walls, and 
spreads them on a massive iron teatray. From another sheif she 
produces a mysterious-looking substance, of pallid hue, orna- 
mented with black spots which look like defunct flies. 

" It's- a trifle mowldy, miss," she apologises, as she slices this 
substance ; " but I made it with my own hands, and it's genu- 

Editha and Herman decline the cake on the ground of feeble 
appetite, but consent to take a little tea. That infusion is very 
black and very strong, and tastes so much like senna, that Her- 
man is fearful lest Mrs. Gredby should be practising upon him 
for bis ulterior benefit, after the manner of careful nurses with 
small children. 

After making a faint pretence of drinking tea, Editha and her 
betrothed take leave of Mr. and Mrs. Gredby, and proceed to 
visit the smaller dwellings in the settlement. Everywhere 
Editha is received with the same tokens of affection, wept over, 
kissed, adored, while Herman stands looking on. It is sweetto 
him to see how much she is beloved, and his heart is stirred with 
a secret pride as he thinks how willingly she has surrendered all 
this worship and allegiance, her happy useful life among her 
native bills, to follow his uncertain fortunes. 

Hostages to Fortune. 153 

The basket contains keepsakes for every one — always some- 
thing pretty and useful and appropriate, which appears in every 
case to be the object most ardently desired by the recipient. 
Bright neckerchiefs, lace collars, Bibles, Testaments, inkstands, 
needlecases, come out of the basket, and elicit rapturous admira- 

" You'll not be forgotten when I am gone," Editha tells her 
various pensioners ; " my sister will take pare of you. You shall 
have your half-pound of tea every other Saturday the same as 
usual, Mrs. Davis." 

" It isn't that I'm thinking of, miss," answers a hard-working 
matron. "It's the sight of your bright face we shall miss." 

Llanmoel duly visited, Herman and Editha enter a lane — wild, 
rugged, and picturesque — which turns oft at an angle by the side 
of the New Inn. 

"Where are we goingnow?" asks Herman. 
Editha points skyward. 

" "What, going to heaven so soon ! I thought we were to be 
married first, and translated together." 

"I wish you wouldn't talk like that, Herman. You see the 
bank yonder. We are going to a farmhouse near the top." 

" I see a mountain, like Brighton racecourse turned up end- 
ways, dotted with sheep." 
"That's where we are going." 
"Do people live up there; for example." 

The lane is delightful — not always narrow ; it widens by and 
by into a patch of wooded waste, with here and there a pool of 
water, fern-fringed, shadowed with blackberry and alder bushes, 
old hawthorns lichened and gray ; all things wild, neglected, 
beautiful. Then the lane narrows again, and twists and wriggles 
up the hillside, and the valley widens as they rise above it ; and 
Cymbries Bank and the Roman mound rise up before them far 
away to the west, in the glow of afternoon sunlight. 

"Imagine anybody living up here," cries Herman, "alone 
among the Immensities, and nearly a day's journey from the 

Steeper and steeper grows the lane, screened with hazel-bushes 
and wild apple, hawthorn and alder, till it brings them into a 
triangular farm-yard just under the summit of the hill. Such a 
lonely old farmhouse, decently kept and prosperous looking, the 
huge chimney-stacks composing about one-half of the building. 
A flight of steps leads up to the low wooden door, innocent of 
knocker or bell. 

Herman thumps the portal with his stick, whereat a simple- 
minded-looking calf puts its head out of a shed in the yard and 

154 Hostages to Fortune. 

lows plaintively, and an unseen dog barks indignantly, but there 
is no other answer. Herman knocks again and again, but with 
no further effect than irritating the invisible dog, and puzzling 
the mild-faced calf, whose mother salutes the intruders with a 
resentful bellow. 

" I daresay Maggie and Jenny have gone to Llandrysak," says 
Editha. " I should like to have seen them. They were my 
prize scholars three years ago, and the prettiest girls in the 
neighbourhood. Would you like to go to the top of the hill." 

" Having come so far, it would be dastardly to desist," replies 
Herman. " A friend of mine — a famous Alpine traveller in his 
way — told me that when he got within twenty feet of the sum- 
mit of Mont Blanc he would have given the world to lie down 
then and there, and give up life and the task together ; but he 
crawled to the top somehow." 

They leave the farmyard by a narrow ledge which leads up- 
ward, and from the hilltop survey the world below, seated side 
by side upon a low stone wall, which for some unknown reason 
divides the summit. To the right and left of them are peaks as 
high as that they have climbed, one clothed with bracken, the 
other bare. Below them rushes a mountain torrent through the 
cloven hills. They can see the little wooden tower of Llanmoel 
church in the valley beneath, and far away in the clear blue the 
scattered white houses of Llandrysak ; but of a human being, 
near or far, there is no sign. 

" I can almost distinguish the Cambria, and Dewrance playing 
croquet," says Herman. 

Mr. Dewrance has come down to assist at to-morrow's cere- 
mony. He has been succeeded at Llandrysak by a gentleman of 
an Evangelical turn, and the pretty little white and gray stone 
church on the common has made a retrograde movement, which 
is grateful to the native mind, but unwelcome to English visitors. 

They sit for a little while curiously silent, moved to deepest 
thoughts by the serenity of the scene. On the threshold of her 
new life Editha's thoughts are mournful. Will he always love 
her, this stranger for whom she barters her nearest and dearest ? 
Of Euth's affection, of Euth's sympathy, she is utterly sure ; 
but his love may be a thing of impulse, and change or wane in 
the years to come. She looks at him wonderingly, fearfully, 
being certain of so little about him but the one absorbing truth 
that she loves him. 

"Four o'clock, dearest, and we are between six and seven miles 
from the sound of the dressing bell," exclaims Herman, feeling 
that the melodious tinkling of a distant sheep-bell will speedily 
beguile him to slumber unless he bestirs himself somehow. 

j-iusiages to fortune. 155 

" We shall go home faster than we came, Herman ; the way is 
almost all down-hill." 

'' Ah, that's what makes the progress of life so rapid after five- 
and twenty — it is all down-hill." 

They go back to the farmhouse. Herman assails the door with 
his stick again and again in vain. But half-way down the lane 
they meet the farmer's daughters, dark-eyed ; blooming, lovely, 
earning heavy baskets, and delighted at the sight of Editha. _ 

"I should have been so sorry if I'd gone away without seeing 
you, Maggie, and you too, Jenny." 

" 0, if you please, miss, we are to be in the churchyard to- 
morrow, with all your old scholars." 

" Really ! That is kind." 

Maggie's and Jenny's keepsakes are fished out of the basket, 
and there are kisses and kindly words of farewell. 

" That was a little better than being kissed by Mrs. Gredby," 
says Herman, as he and Editha continue their journey. 

'" Poor Mrs. Gredby ! When my brothers were little boys, it 
was their great delight to visit Mrs. Gredby, and sit in the 
chimney-corner with old Mr. Gredby. He used to make them 
pea-shooters, and to lend them an old gun long before they were 
allowed to have guns of their own. I'm afraid to think how 
much mouldy cake they must have eaten. I know Mrs. Gredby 
used to give them sausages, and black pudding, and all manner 
of dreadful things." 

" I daresay your Indian brother is suffering for those juvenile 
indiscretions now, and calling it liver," replies Herman. 

They arrive at Lochwithian only just in time for the dressing- 
bell. The Priory is full of guests. Editha's clerical brother has 
arrived on the scene, with his wife and two eldest girls, who are 
to be bridesmaids. Two young ladies of ancient Welsh family 
have come from a distant grange for the same purpose. Mr. 
Dewrance is there in readiness for to-morrow, and Mr. Petherick 
comes to dinner. Editha has no more time for mournful thoughts 
till late that night, when she kneels beside Ruth's sofa, and con- 
fides her vague doubts and fears to that sympathetic listener. 
Ruth's words are full of comfort. 

" Dearest, your own heart has chosen," she says. " I -think 
there is a divine instinct in a heart as pure and true as yours. 
Why should we fear the issue ? " 

" It seems so hard to leave you, Ruth, so selfish. But you do 
like him, don't you, Ruth ? You can trust him ? " 

" Yes, dear ; if he will only be true to the better part of his 

nature : and with you for his counsellor he can hardly be otherwise." 
o o o o <* 

156 Hostages to Fortune. 

To-morrow, and they stand side by side in the beautified church, 
before an altar glorious with all white flowers that bloom at this 
season — a church crowded with loving faces, many of them 
tearful, for at Lochwithian this marriage is in some wise a public 

The autumn sun shines warm . and bright. School-children, 
and young women who were Editha's scholars a few years ago, 
line the path from the church door to the Priory gates, and cast 
their tributary blossoms before the bridal pair. To young and 
old Editha, in her white dress and veil, seems like an angel. 

The crowd does not lessen when the wedding party have gone 
back to the house ; the people wait to see the last of their 
favourite. Mrs. Gredby is there, splendidly got up in a Paisley 
shawl of many colours and a green gauze bonnet. There are 
two or three national hats come from remote villages, but smart 
bonnets of the last metropolitan fashion prevail. 

There is to be a tea-drinking in the afternoon on a large scale 
for old and young, and in the mean time an itinerant vendor dis- 
penses cakes and sweetstuff to the excited throng. At last the 
carriage which is to convey bride and bridegroom to the Llan- 
drysak station appears before the porch, and, after an interval, 
Editha reappears in her simple travelling-dress, leaning on her 
father's arm, Herman on the other side, and the brother and 
sister-in-law, cousins, friends, and clergy in the background. 

The young couple drive off amidst a burst of cheers which the 
hillsides echo thunderously, Editha looking back at her old home 
till the road winds and shuts it from her sight. 

" Never quite my own homo any more," she murmurs sadly. 
" Good-bye, happy days of youth ! " 


" Epouvantable et complet de'saslre. Le vaisseau sombrait sans laisser 
ni un cordage ni une planche sur le vaste ocean des esperauces." 

The Frivolity is closed during the season of London's emptiness, 
and Mrs. Brandreth is enjoying the blissfulness of repose at the 
sleepy little Belgian watering-place of Heldenberg, near the good 
old city of Memlingstadt. Not altogether a bad place, this 1 
Heldenberg, with its monster hotel and fine sea-wall ; its vast 

uosmges 10 fortune. 157 

stretch of golden sands and colony of bathing-boxes ; its row 
of smart new villas facing the sea ; and its cluster of ancient 
houses built in a snug little hollow under the lee of a sandbank, 
comfortably sheltered from ocean waves and stormy winds. 
There are the cosiest little restaurants down in this old town of 
Heldenberg, a sprinkling of humble shops, a dim old church, and 
a post-office. AIL. the rest of Heldenberg is new, and spreads 
itself in a line with its face to the sea, steadfastly ignoring the 
original settlement, from whose lower level the fashionable 
watering-place is approached by steep stone steps, upon which 
shrill-voiced females exhibit their small wares, and tempt the idle 
visitor to unpremeditated outlay. Those large flat currant-cakes 
which are the glory of Belgium may be had here, and the 
Heldenberg mussel, a fish of some distinction, is purveyed upon 
the stone landings. Not often does the upper town descend to 
the lower town, the great hotel providing for, all the wants of its 
patrons, internal and external, and the landscape, between Hel- 
denberg and Memlingstadt offering no farther attraction to the 
explorer than is to be found in level sands intersected by an 
occasional ditch, or a row of stunted willows a canal with barges 
and water-gates, and here and there the verdure of a cabbage- 

Mrs. Brandreth has come to Heldenberg as a quiet out-of-the- 
way place, where she is not likely to find many English people, 
or to be recognised and stared at. She has-her reward. There 
are very few English at Heldenberg, which does not offer many 
attractions to the British mind. It is not a stage upon the high- 
road of Europe, like Ostend ; it has no steamers, no direct com- 
munication with any place except Memlingstadt. Its establisse- 
rnent is in its infancy, its dissipations of the mildest order. The 
Belgians come here in flocks, proud of having created Helden- 
berg by their own unaided efforts. It is a plant of purely native 
growth, owes no favour to the rest of Europe, and its cleanliness, 
i'resliness, and brightness are very fair to Belgian eyes. To dress 
smartly, bathe abundantly, lounge away morning and afternoon- 
on the esplanade, retiring at intervals for copious refreshment, 
and to hear indifferent music and play small games of chance in 
the evening, make up the sum of life at Heldenberg ; a placid, 
simple existence, not over-costly, and leaving no bad taste in the 

Myra has brought a box of new books, and a point-lace flounce 
which she has been at work upon for the last three years. She 
has avoided the public life of the monster hotel, enjoyable as it 
is to Belgian visitors, and has established herself in two pretty 
rooms, au premier, in one of the villas facing the sea. A large 


lyOKw/ufO ii\J J.' UI'VWIIG* 

family of healthy-looking children, whose existence appears to 
be one perpetual meal-time, occupy the apartments beneath. 
Myra has a balcony, lattice-shaded, in which she can sit on warm 
afternoons reading or working, or studying her part in Herman's 
new comedy, which work of genius he placed in her hands a few 
days before his last 'journey to Radnorshire. 

The piece is strong, full of domestic interest and telling situa- 
tions, and Myra's part is one of the finest she has ever had 
written for her. This quiet Belgian watering-place affords her 
ample leisure for study. She has time to think out the character ; 
to create a living, breathing woman from the words of her author ; 
to enlarge upon his ideas, and give form to his airiest fancy. 

" I think even he will be proud and pleased if I carry out my 
idea of the character," she says to herself, sitting in the balcony 
in the warm afternoon sunshine with the manuscript comedy on 
her lap, just two days after Herman's wedding. 

She has thought herself remote from all her world, and has 
been luxuriating in the rest and freedom which accompany the 
thought, when looking idly down at the esplanade she sees a* 
gentleman in gray, with a white hat and hay-coloured whiskers, 
steadfastly regarding the balcony. He lifts his hat as she looks 
at him, and reveals the somewhat commonplace features of Lord 

" How do you do, Mrs. Brandreth ? " he remarks, with his 
accustomed tranquillity. " I thought I couldn't be mistaken. 
Your people could not tell me your number, so I have been ex- 
ploring What's-its-name. I forget what the Belgians call this 
settlement. Rather like the east-end of Margate without the 
cockneys, isn't it ? " 

" Pray come in, if you want to talk," says Myra, with vexation 
of spirit, rolling up her manuscript. 

Lord Earlswood is prepared to converse placidly from the 
pavement, regardless of the impression he may make upon the 
various families which crowd the brand-new villas. 

" May I ? " he says. " So delighted ! " 

He ascends the stone steps, disappears through the open portal, 
and reappears in Myra's drawing room, where the new books are 
scattered on sofa and tables, and the point-lace flounce dis- 
plays itself half in and half out of a fairy work-basket lined with 
quilted rose-coloured satin. The newly-furnished apartment 
looks like a scene on the stage. 

" How do you do ? " says Myra, stifling a yawn. She had been 
in a delicious reverie that was almost slumber when her listless 
gaze alighted on Lord Earlswood's white hat. " What brings 
you to this quiet little place ? " 

Hostages to rormne. 


" You may well ask that. I think it would have been only 
friendly to let a fellow know where you were coming. I called 
in Bloomsbury-square. No one could toll me anything^ except 
that you'd gone to some foreign watering-place. It might be 
Ostend, or Boulogne, or Dieppe, or Biarritz, or Arcachon, or 
Jericho — no one knew. Went to the theatre — same result : 
meeting of the company announced for the 6th of October — 
that was all. It was Mrs. Lockstitch, your wardrobe woman, 
who put me on the right scent. She had made your dresses, and 
you had told her you wanted them in a quiet style for a quiet 
place. Hel— something, in Belgium. I looked up Murray, and 
found only one Belgian watering-place beginning with Hel ; and 
here I am. Clever, wasn't it ? " 

" Pertinacious, at any rate," replies Myra. 

" Ah, that's the next best thing, if it isn't better. ' It's dogged- 
ness does it.' I came across that sentence somewhere the other 
day, and it took my fancy. I flatter myself there's a good deal 
of doggedness in my composition." 

" I thought you were grouse-shooting in the Highlands ? " 

" Everybody shoots grouse ; I don't." 

" You must be very anxious about your theatre," says Myra, 
taking up her flounce, and doing a stitch or two, point Turque, 
with infinite precision. 

"I don't care two straws about the theatre. Come, Mrs. 
Brandreth, you know. that as well as I do. I built it for you, 
just as I might have sent you a box of bonbons on New Year's 

" A princely oonbonniere. But I am glad Fortune has been 
kind, and that so far you have had interest for your money." 

" It's not very friendly to talk in that business-like way when 
a fellow has come across from Dover to Ostend — the worst 
passage I ever made — on purpose to see you." 

" Extremely kind on your part, but rather foolish ; unless 
Heldenberg and the Belgians prove amusing enough to reward 
your devotion. What can you have to say to me, or I to you, 
that would not be just as well said a month hence ? " 

" I don't know about that. First and foremost, I came to see 
you. It's a pleasure to me even to sit here watching you stitch- 
ing at that blue-calico-and-white-tape arrangement. And then, 
again, I've a little bit of news for you," he adds, with a faint 
sparkle in his dull gray eyes. " News that I thought might in- 
terest you — about a friend of ours." 

" What kind of news ? " asks Myra, working industriously to 
cure her sleepiness. 

" Well, I should call it — matrimonial." 

160 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Miss Belormond has had an offer from that sporting baronet 
with the tight legs who used to hang about the stage-door ? " 


" Mr. Flanders, the low comedian, has married Bella Walters 
— at last ? I'm sure she has tried hard enough to bring it about, 
poor girl ! " 

" No." 

" Then I give it up." 

"Your friend, Mr. Westray — " begins Lord Earlswood slowly. 

The work drops from Myra's hands as she looks up at him. 

" Well, what of him ? " 

" 0, nothing very particular. His marriage is in yesterday's 

" Some other Westray, perhaps." 

" No ; Herman Westray. Here's the paper ; " and his lordship 
produces a neatly-folded supplement. " Herman Westray, only 
son of the late Eeverend Thomas Westray of Colehaven, Devon, 
to Editha, second daughter of Morgan Morcombe, Esq., Loch- 
witbian Priory, Eadnorshire." 

" I rather expected it," says Myra, with heroic composure. " I 
have seen them together at the Frivolity." 

"0," exclaims Earlswood, mortified, "then you're not 
surprised ? " 

" Not particularly. If you crossed the Channel with the idea 
that you were bringing me a piece of astounding news, you have 
wasted your trouble." 

She is especially gracious to him after this ; allows him to 
share her afternoon tea, discusses her plans for the coming 
season at the Frivolity, and dismisses him in the last stage of 
mystification. And by and by, alone in her pretty bedchamber, 
with its snow-white drapery and continental gimcrackery, she 
falls on her knees and raises her clasped hands, and takes an 
awful oath — not to the God of Christians assuredly, who can 
hardly be supposed to receive such vows, but to Nemesis, or the 
three fatal spinsters who deal calamity to man. 

Uostages to Fortune. 161 


" We'll live together like two neighbour vines, 

Circling our souls and loves in one another. 

We'll spring together, and we'll bear one fruit ; 

One joy shall make us smile, and one grief mourn ; 

One age go with us, and one hour of death 

Shall close our eyes, and one grave make us happy." 

Herman's honeymoon fleets past him like a blissful dream. Life, 
which he had thought worn out and done with, save as a mere 
mechanical process, seems to have begun afresh for him — life 
and youth and happiness all renewed together like a second 
birth. Editha's companionship is so sweet in its utter novelty. 
This pure heart has so many treasures to lay at his feet. This 
innocent mind has such unknown deeps for him to sound. As 
her lover he had fancied that he knew all the wealth of her 
nature. As her husband he discovers a new world of thought 
and feeling which the girl had veiled from him. 

Too fleet, too fair are those early days of their wedded life ; 
like those radiant mornings which are apt to end in dull weather, 
the rose changing to gray, the sun vanishing behind angry 

They have no thought of such change, tBese wedded lovers. 
Editha has no longer any doubt as to the wisdom of her choice, 
or the possibility of perfect happiness in this imperfect world. 
She sits by her husband one night while he writes a chapter of 
his novel, watches all the lights and shadows of the mobile face 
which changes with his theme, and is beyond measure happy. 
It is as if she had actually a part in his work, in his thoughts, 
in his genius ; and when he reads her the concluded chapter — 
ineffable condescension! — bliss beyond the power of language 
to express. 

She writes to Ruth from a little Swiss village a letter brimming 
over with joy, one of those honeymoon letters which we all re- 
ceive occasionally from sister, or cousin, or familar friend ; a 
letter in which every sentence begins with " Dear Herman," 
" Dear Herman thinks," " Dear Herman says," " Dear Herman 
hopes," — a letter which illustrates all the weaknesses of woman, 
and all her virtues. 

That bright month — not to be reckoned as other months in the 
calendar — comes to an end like a tale that is told, and the newly- 
mairied couple come home to the house at Fulham. Then come 
new pleasures, the simple joys of domesticity. Huge chests 

1G2 Hostages to Fortune. 

of linen, sent up from Locliwitliian Priory to be unpacked and 
put away. Wedding presents to be disposed judiciously about 
the rooms ; no easy task, as these gifts are for the most part in- 
congruous and of doubtful taste — a pink-and-gold French clock 
and candelabra, for instance, which are an eyesore in that perfect 
drawing-room, whose pale green and white and tender lilacs are 
as delicate as a picture by Greuze. 

Editha is enchanted with her new home. There is an artistic 
grace about the river-side villa, with its light airy rooms. Not 
numerous, but of a fair size. Messrs. Molding and Korness, not 
being harassed by interference from their customer, have sur- 
passed themselves. There is nothing costly, or that strikes the 
observer as costly ; no gilding, except the slenderest line of un- 
burnished gold here and there ; no sheen of satin or splendour of 
brocade ; no vast expanse of looking-glass, confusing the sense 
with imaginary space. The Pompeian vestibule and dining-room 
are deliciously simple ; encaustic tiles, unpolished ebony, cre- 
tonne draperies of classic design and rich subdued colour. The 
walls are painted a delicate French gray, relieved by a four-foot 
dado of ebonised panelling, and the ceiling of palest primrose. 
A broad border of ebonised wood surrounds the Venetian glass 
over the chimney-piece, and on this broad framework there are 
brackets supporting small bronze figures which might have been 
dug out of the lava that buried Herculaneum. A cretonne cur- 
tain divides the dining-room from a smaller chamber, looking 
upon the somewhat dingy byroad by which the villa is ap- 
proached. This room has been lined from floor to ceiling on 
two sides with ebonised shelves for the accommodation of Her- 
man's library, which is rather of the future than the present, his 
existing collection filling about a third of the space Messrs. 
Molding and Korness have allowed him ; his desk, his reading- 
lamp, his chair, are perfection of their kind. A sofa of classic 
design has been provided for Editha opposite her husband's 
writing-table ; a stand with russia-leather portfolio suggests a 
collection of photographs, which may help her to while away an 
idle hour ; a rustic work-table in a corner hints at stocking- 
mending and the sewing-on of shirt-buttons. Glass, china, all 
the details of housekeeping are in harmony with one pervading 
idea. Everything is artistic. The very beer-jugs are Etrurian ; 
the urn is as purely Greek as that finely sculptured brazen vase 
from which Antigone poured her libation upon the dead. 

The servants have been provided by the house-agent, and 
have been recommended as models of probity. They are cook, 
housemaid, and parlourmaid, and present a very fair appearance 
on the evening of Mr. and Mrs. Westray's arrival, congregated in 

Hostages to Fortune. 163 

the hall to carry in the boxes and travelling-bags — three smartly- 
dressed young women, whose starched muslin aprons are their 
onlv badge of servitude. 

Now Editha begins her duties as matron and housekeeper, and 
all the small troubles and vexations of housekeeping on a limited 
scale gradually reveal themselves to her. After their first break- 
fast at home, when the rooms, and the cups and saucers, and the 
view from the windows, and the servants' faces are still as new 
to them as if they had just put up at a strange hotel, Herman 
gives his young wife twenty pounds and the daintiest little 
morocco account-book ever devised to make accounts fascinating. 

" I think it will be wisest to pay the bills weekly, dear," he 
says, " and then we shall always know exactly how we stand 
financially. Do you think twenty pounds is enough for you to 
begin with ? " 

" 0, Herman, twenty pounds ought to last us ever so long ; a 
month I should think. Twenty pounds used to last a long time 
at Lochwithian, though we had ten servants instead of three. 
Certainly papa paid all the large accounts quarterly, and we had 
a great deal from the home farm." 

" Here you will have to pay for everything. Bridge-end 
nouse produces nothing, not so much as a sprig of parsley to 
decorate the butter." 

On this first day Herman leaves his wife to face the responsi- 
bilities of her position alone. He has been away from London 
five weeks, and is anxious to see his publishers, to look in at his 
favourite club, and to ascertain in a general way how the world 
has wagged in his absence. Editha goes to the hall-door with him, 
and sees him depart with that faint touch of heart-sinking which 
young wives are subject to on such occasions. Throughout their 
honeymoon they have not lived an hour asunder. This is the 
beginning of stern reality. Editha lingers in the hall for a 
minute or two, contemplating the rather dull outlook from the 
window : a dwarfed hedgerow and level market garden stretching 
away towards Walham Green ; a church-spire and gray housetops 
in the distance ; not so much as a mound of earth to relieve the 
dismal flatness of a cabbage and asparagus producing world. 
Then she screws her courage to the sticking-place, and penetrates 
those hidden and rearward premises of which she is nominal 
mistress, thinking that for this first day it will be wise to go to 
the cook, instead of summoning that functionary to an interview. 

It is eleven o'clock by this time, and Mrs. Westray finds her 
establishment at luncheon, seated comfortably at the kitchen 
table with a substantial upstanding wedge of double gloucester, a 
quartern loaf , an d the largest of the E trurian beer-jugs before them. 

1G4 Hostages to Fortune. 

They look somewhat disconcerted by her appearance, which 
they evidently regard as an intrusion. Cook wipes her mouth 
hastily and rises. She is a young woman, buxom and florid, with 
a look of having develojDed her figure upon buttered toast and 
hot suppers — a young woman with a sensual under-lip and a 
cunning eye. Housemaid and parlour-maid keep their seats. 
Very different this from Editha's welcome in the great old- 
fashioned kitchen at Lochwithian, where the cook and house- 
keeper of twenty years' service worshipped her, and the Welsh 
maidens smiled and curtsied as at the coming of a princess. 

She discusses the dinner question. First, as the most impor- 
tant, cook has made bold to order the kitchen dinner already, to 
avoid loss of time. A nice little loin of pork and apple dump- 
lings. "The others like pork," she says, with an air of self- 
abnegation. For the late dinner she suggests a pair of soles, a 
pair of fowls, and a small ham. " Which Fullers the tea-grocer 
says he has some prime York 'anas at sixteenpence a pound, and 
I might make you a ha23ple tart, mum, and a few custards." 

This dinner, though fair enough as a sample of the cook'a 
capabilities, does not appear strikingly novel to Editha. Their 
honeymoon dinners have run very much upon roast fowl in those 
out-of-the-way Swiss hotels. 

She racks her brains in the endeavour to think of something 
else ; but saddles of mutton, fillets of veal, and fore-quaite's of 
Iamb are the only ideas that present themselves to her mind, and 
these are inappropriate to a tete-d-tele dinner. 

" I think Mr. Westray would like a little game," she hazards. 

" You might have a brace of pheasants, mum, after the 

Four winged creatures to dine two people ! There seems 
something wrong here. 

"I should think one fowl and one pheasant would be quite 
enough," says the young housekeeper. 

"It might be enough, ma'am, but it wouldn't do credit to a 
gentleman's table ; and if master should 'appen to bring 'ome a 
friend promiscuous, the dinner would look shabby ; and I'm 
sure you wouldn't wish that — just at first too." 

" No, of course I don't wish that." 

So cook has her way, and Editha feels somehow that this first 
attempt is not good housekeeping ; and yet she has kept her 
father's house with credit and renown from seventeen years of 
age upwards, has dealt out stores on a large and liberal scale, 
kerjt accounts, and been nominally mistress of everything.' 

But it is one thing to deal with old servants whose master's 
goods are as their own — who would shudder at the idea of di- 

Hostages to Fortune. 165 

verting a loaf of bread or a basin of dripping from its proper 
use ; who are as proud of the family they serve and as anxious 
for the family credit as if the same blood flowed in their veins, 
ami the same good old race made honour a necessity of their 
being — and to have commerce with these sharp-witted London- 
bred girls, who look upon eveiy new household they enter as a 
caravansera which they can leave at their pleasure, and domestic 
service as a means to the one great end of their existence, which 
includes good living, fine dress, and evenings out. 

After her interview with the cook, Editha surveys the parlour- 
maid's pantry, which Messrs. Molding and Korness have made as 
perfect as a steward's cabin on board a modern steamship, but 
which the young person who has charge of it pronounces dark 
and damp. 

" And I'm afraid we shall be overrun with mice, ma'am, for 
I've heard them scuffling after dark. I suppose it's along of 
living so near the river," adds the damsel, with a suppressed 

The storeroom and china-closet" are in one, filled with locked 
presses for linen and groceries. In one of these presses Editha 
and the two maids stow away the ample supply of house-linen, 
the making and marking of which, by the school-children of 
Lochwithian, it has been Ruth's pride to supervise. The grocery- 
closet Editha discovers will be useless, as the grocer calls every 
day for orders ; and the cook assures her that it will be best 
and cheapest to order everything as it is wanted. 

" I don't believe grocery would keep in them cupboards, mum, 
so near the river," adds cook sagaciously ; whereat Editha begins 
to understand that Father Thames is a friend to mice and inimi- 
cal to grocery. 

The grocery question settled, Mrs. Westray informs her house- 
hold that she intends to pay all bills weekly, except such 
occasional supplies as can be paid for with ready money. She 
declares furthermore that she will require all accounts to be care- 
fully examined and errors noted before they are submitted to 

The cook seems somewhat to disapprove of weekly payments ; 
her last master paid everything by cheque, half-yearly, she in- 
forms Editha, and evidently considers her last master's method 
the nobler of the two. 

" But if you do intend to pay weekly, mum," adds Jane the 
cook, with a sigh, " there's a few little accounts I'd better give 
you at once." 

She searches a sauce-tureen or two and a vegetable-dish, which 
vessels contain reels of cotton, old letters, a dirty collar, small 

166 Hostages to Fortune. 

change, penholders, and various oddments appertaining to the 
three young persons who are good enough to accept a tem- 
porary shelter in Mrs. Westray's house. From one of these 
receptacles she produces half a dozen crumpled bills more or 
less greasy ; and from th^se documents Editha discovers that the 
week preceding her arrival — during which the young persons 
have been settling down in their new service, and making* believe 
to clean rooms which had never been soiled — has been a some- 
what expensive period. There is a little bill from the baker, 
and a hieroglyphical paper from the butcher, the original obscu- 
rity of which has been made more obscure by grease. Editha 
just contrives to decipher that the young persons have consumed 
three shoulders of mutton and four loins of pork in the week, 
and that they have furthermore required suet and calves' liver. 
The grocer's bill is the most alarming, for the grocer is a mono- 
polist in his way, and sells bacon, cheese, eggs, and butter, as 
well as tallow-chandlery and colonial produce. Blacklead, bath- 
brick, sweet oil, hearthstone, scouring-paper, housemaids' gloves, 
lucif er matches, gas tapers, brooms, brushes, and blacking mount 
up in a positively awful manner. Six pounds and three-quarters 
of bacon have been indispensable as a provision for the foirr 
transparent rashers served at that morning's breakfast ; nine 
pounds eleven ounces of double gloucester have been necessary 
to start the kitchen, and half a stilton has been ordered for the 
dining-room. Tea, coffee, sugar, rice, and. tapioca have been 
laid in with equal liberality. There will be very little change 
out of a five-pound note from Mr. Fullers the grocer. Altogether 
Editha finds that her first payments will swallow up half of Her- 
man's twenty pounds, and she has the satisfaction of hearing 
from the housemaid that more brooms, brushes, turksheads, fur- 
niture polishes, and Brunswick blacks are required before the 
house can be cleaned in a satisfactory manner. 

This investigation of domestic affairs occupies some time, and 
then Editha goes up to her own pretty rooms and begins the 
task of unpacking. She has no maid— having insisted upon 
dispensing with that luxury in her new life, and being at 
all times independent of help — so the unpacking and arrange- 
ment of the trousseau take a long time ; so long that she has 
but a few minutes before post-time to write hurriedly to Kuth, 
announcing her establishment in her new home. 

" You must come to me soon, darling," she writes, " if Br. 
Price thinks you can bear the journey. I long to see you, to tell 
you all about our Swiss tour, and how more than good dear 
Herman is. I feel rather strange and lonely to-day in my^iew 
home, dear Herman having being obliged to go to town on busi 

xiosiage8 to fortune. 167 

ness — about his new book, you know, dear. _ It seems so odd to 
see strange servants, instead of the kind friendly faces at Loch- 
withian. I have brought presents for all of them from Switzer- 
land, which I shall send in the box with your clock and jewel- 
casket ; the clock from me, the casket from Herman, his own 
choice. I think you will like the carving." 

After this letter has been written and despatched, time 
seems rather to hang upon Editha's hands. The house, pretty as it 
is, has tli it new look which is not quite friendly. The impress of 
Messrs. Molding and Korness's work is still upon it — the varnish 
too blight, the colours of the draperies too fresh. Editha cannot 
feel that it is home yet awhile ; and then this first severance from 
Herman even for a few hours is a trial. By five o'clock in the 
afternoon he seems to have been away so long. She wonders 
that he has not contrived to settle all business matters, and come 
back in tims to take her for a walk before dusk. 

She goes into the garden, but on this dull October afternoon 
Father Thames looks gloomy. A fog obscures the Surrey shore. 
A street lamp, lighted too soon, shows dimly here and there 
among the cold gray houses. Everything is dull and cold. She 
walks up and down the gravel-path by the water, and looks over 
the low boundary at a wide reach of mud despondently, and 
wonders to find that so large a portion of this much-extolled 
river consists of a dark slimy filth, obnoxious to sight and smell. 

She soon wearies of that narrow lawn and gravel-path, so dif- 
ferent from the gardens at Lochwithian, and goes back to the 
house, where she tries to amuse herself by looking at Herman's 
library. This does not prove particularly interesting, being con- 
fined to books of reference, admirable in their way, and those 
standard works with which Editha is familiar. She takes out a 
volume of Goldsmith's Citizen of the World, and tries to read ; 
but her thoughts wander from the page, and she finds herself 
b"stening for Herman's return. 

They are to dine at half -past seven. At six the parlour-maid 
brings her a wishy-washy cup of tea, and a thin slice of new 
bread thickly buttered. This refreshment fails to revive her 
spirits, and she finds herself lapsing into melancholy on this first 
day of her home life. 

But at last, just as she comes down-stairs in her simple dinner 
dress, a latchkey sounds in the hall-door, and Herman appears. 
Happy meeting, fond welcome, as after a severance of years. 

" ^ hy, my love, you look pale and tired," he says, as they go 
into the library together. " You haven't been over-exerting your- 
self about domestic duties, I hope ? " 

'• no, dear ; only — " 

1 G8 Hostages to Fortune. 

"Only what, my pet?" 

" The day has seemed so long and dull without you." 

" Has it, darling ? " he exclaims, pleased by the avowal. " I 
oughtn't to have gone to town the first day, perhaps ; only I was 
anxious to see Standish about my novel, and to hear what had 
been doing in the last six weeks. You went for a walk, I hope ? " 

" What, alone, Herman, in this strange place ! " 

"Ah, to be sure — you don't know the neighbourhood yet. 
There are some nice walks — Barnes Common, for instance, not 
above half an hour's walk from here ; and Wimbledon, almost as 
near ; I must show you them next week. And now I'll go and 
wash my hands for dinner. I've eaten no lunch, on purpose to 
do justice to our first home dinner." 

" I hope it will be nice, dear ; but the cook is rather young. 
However, she seems to understand things, and is very confident." 

The table in the Pompeian chamber looks pretty enough, with 
the fragile modern glass and heavy old silver — the last the 
Squire's gift to his daughter — when Herman and his wife go into 
dinner presently ; but the dinner itself is a failure, and Herman 
resents the fact more intensely than Editha would have expected 
from a poet. 

The soles are burned on the outside and pink within ; the fowls 
are the oldest and toughest birds Herman has encountered for 
some time, and Swiss poultry has not been always young ; the 
ham is half raw, hard, and salt ; the pheasants are reduced to a 
condition in which the flesh crumbles off their bones ; the bread- 
sauce is watery ; the gravy is chiefly remarkable for grease, Lee 
and Perrin, and black pepper ; the pastry is a leaden sarcophagus, 
in which a few half -cooked apples are entombed ; the custards 
are curdled. But happily, before they arrive at this stage of the 
feast, Herman has spoiled an excellent appetite with a series of 
disappointments, and has retired within himself. 

0, those nice little club dinners — so simple, so inexpensive ! 
The one whiting, crisp and of a golden brown, with his tail in 
his mouth — delicate symbol of eternity ; the longitudinal slice 
of haunch, roasted by a cook who has elevated roasting to a 
science. Herman is not so practical as to count the cost of this 
first home dinner, or he would find the account sadly against do- 

Soles £0 2 6 

Fowls 076 

Ham 13 7* 

Pheasants 080 

Gravy-beef, vegetables, eggs, butter, lard, and sundries . 5 

Total £1 16 71 

Hostages to Fortune. 169 

His dinner at the club would have cost him three-and-sixpence ; 
but then he cannot take Editha to a club, and it is an established 
principle in the British mind that to dine out of doors is adverse 
to the best interests of domestic life. 

" I am afraid you have not enjoyed your dinner, dear," Editha 
says nervously, when the parlour-maid, who is slow and stately 
in her movements, has swept the last crumb from the tablecloth, 
and withdrawn her attentive ear from Mr. and Mrs. Westray's 

"We won't call it dinner, Editha. Everything was simply 
uneatable. You must tell your cook so to-morrow ; and if she 
can't do better, you must dismiss her. There must be plenty of 
good cooks to be had, if you go the right way to work." 

Editha sighs. It seems a bad beginning somehow, insignifi- 
cant as the matter is to her mind. Herman drinks a couple of 
glasses of claret, conquers a disposition towards ill-temper, and 
they retire to the pretty little study, where there is a cheery fire 
on this dull October evening, and sit opposite each other on either 
side of the hearth like old-established married people, and Editha 
is happy again. 

They talk and talk, having such a boundless stock of ideas to 
impart to each other, that there seems no limit to the possibility 
of interesting conversation. Herman expounds his views upon a 
variety of subjects ; vague dreamy views, tricked out in a halo 
of sentiment. He tells his wife a little about his day in London ; 
the people he has met, the news he has heard ; not altogether 

" I'm afraid it is a very wicked world you hear of at the clubs, 
Herman," she says, shocked to learn that A.'s wife has run away 
with a Queen's Messenger ; that there is a rumour of a judicial 
separation between Mr. and Mrs. B. ; thatC, after menant grand 
train for the last three years, has appeared in the Gazette ; that 
D. has levanted on account of some unknown difficulty, which 
may be anything from flirtation to forgery. 

''It is the best world we know of, my dear," he answers 
calmly ; " and we can but make the best of it ; get the most out 
of it ; give it the least ; trust it never ; hope for little from its 
generosity ; for nothing from its charity ; and be sure that he 
who has the biggest beam in his own eye will be the first to spot 
the mote in ours. Yes, it is a wicked world undoubtedly, and, 
unluckily for the cause of morality, the wicked people in it are 
the pleasantest companions and do the kindest things." 

" You don't mean what you say, Herman 1 " exclaims his wife, 

" Some of it, at any rate, dearest," he answers carelessly. " But 

170 Hostages to Fortune. 

I don't want to infect your innocent soul with my time-hardened 
notions. The world you know is fair enough — that smooth- 
faced, time-serving world which smiles upon the prosperous and 
well-placed. God forbid that you should ever test its metal with 
the acid of misfortune, or discover how the fine gold changes to 
dross in the crucible of adversity ! " 

Editha sighs. Worldly wisdom like this seems chilling 
after Euth's gentle views of life, overflowing with hopefulness 
and charity. 

" I think if you were to give me a good cup of tea, Editha, I 
might manage a chapter or two to-night," says Herman, after a 
pause, during which he has been looking dreamily at the fire, and 
tasting the sweets of domesticity. It is sweet to him to sit by 
his own fireside, with Editha opposite him — to know that she is 
absolutely his own. 

The young wife is delighted at that demand for tea. She rings, 
and the stately parlour-maid stalks in presently with the urn and 
caddy, the old-fashioned silver tea-tray, part of Eclitha's dower, 
and rosebud cups and saucers ; and Editha is prettily busy for 
the next five minutes, while Herman goes on dreaming. His 
new book will be a success ; his wife's delight in the chapters 
he has read to her seems to him a good augury. His comedy has 
been received with rapture by Mrs. Brandreth and her company, 
and only awaits the seal of public favour. Life smiles upon him 
as it has never smiled yet. 

He has not seen Myra since his return to England. He has 
had some thoughts of calling at the theatre to-day, his piece being 
already in rehearsal ; but he has shrunk somehow from the notion 
of his first encounter with Mrs. Brandreth in his character ef 
married man, and has deferred his appearance at the Frivolity till 
to-morrow, or possibly the day after, or perhaps next week ; 
although he is quite aware that such postponement may result 
in one or two of his characters working out into something 
utterly alien to his idea of them, and some of his best speeches 
being in a manner read backwards. 

"I'll write to Myra to-morrow, just to let her know that I have 
returned, and to give her my new address," he thinks. 

He is anxious about his comedy, but it would be a relief to 
him if his comedy could succeed without any meeting between 
him and Mrs. Brandreth. 

Kismet is the name of the new play. Modern, domestic, and 
so far original that its author is unconscious of having borrowed 
anybody else's ideas. 

The cup of tea is perfection, and in sipping that brain-clearing 
Deverage Herman forereta that he has had n had dinner TTe talks 

Hostages to Fortune. 171 

of his book ; his characters, and that awful crisis in their fates 
which now looms before him in the middle of the third volume ; 
and thoroughly enjoys himself for the next half-hour. And then 
the tea-tray is removed, the Sutherland table folded and put 
away, and the author seats himself at his desk ; while Editha 
opens her work-basket, and concentrates her attention upon point- 
lace, or seems so to do, though after every group of stitches she looks 
up from her work, and watches the thoughtful face of the writer. 

By and by she takes a volume of Coleridge — the Aldine edition, 
portable, clear of type — from Herman's classic bookshelf, and 
reads. Seated thus, with Herman opposite her, she knows no 
weariness, though she has read nearly to the end of the volume 
before the writer looks up from his manuscript at the sound of 
the silver-tongued clock on the mantelpiece striking two. 

" My dearest, what haA r e I been doing to allow you to stay up 
so long ? " he ex«laims. " Your roses will soon fade if you keep 
me company in the small hours." 

" Let me stay, Herman," she pleads. " I am as foolish as 
David Copperfield's Dora, and I should be glad if I could hold 
your pens. It is so sweet to me to look up from my book now 
and then and watch your face, and fancy that I can follow the 
progress of your story there. Will you read me what you have 
just written?" 

" Not to-night, love," with a yawn. " You shall read it for 
yourself in the printer's slips, and tell me the blemishes in my 
work. And now, wife of mine, I wonder whether your domestic 
handiness would go far enough to give me a b.-and-s. ? " 

The obedient wife flies to the cellaret ; and for the first time 
in her life Squire Morcombe's daughter opens a soda-water bottle. 


"Etait-ce un connaisseur en matiere de femme, 

Cet ^crivain qui dit que, lorsqu'elle sourit, 

Elle vous trompe, elle a pleur^ toute la nuit ? 

Je ne sais si jamais l'6ternelle justice 
A du plaisir des dieux un plaisir permis ; 
Maia, s'il m'etait donn£ de dire a quel supplice 
Je voodrais condamner mon plus fier ennemi, 
C'est toi, pale souci d'une amour d6 laignee, 
D^sespoir mi Arable et qui meurs ignore^ 
Oui, c'est toi, ce serait ta lame empoisonnee, 
Que je voudrais briser dans un cceur abhorr£ I" 

Kismet has been in rehearsal a fortnight before Herman makes 
his first appearance on the dimly-lighted stage, where the actors 

172 Hostages to Fortune. 

are endeavouring to give form and life to his creations, and to 
infuse some touch of novelty into those well-worn types which 
the dramatic writer is fain to employ, for want of power to evolve 
any new order of being from his inner consciousness. 

Mrs. Brandreth is on the stage, rehearsing without book, in 
that low repressed tone with which she keeps feeling and passion 
in check, reserving her great effects — her fire and force and 
whirlwind of passion — for the performance. No one ever quite 
knows what " Brandreth" is going to do till the first night of the 
new piece ; perhaps Brandreth herself least of all. Artist though 
she is, and carefully as she thinks out and elaborates every 
character, she is not the less spontaneous. Some of her finest 
touches of art have come to her at night, before her audience, in 
a flash, like inspiration. Every movement of the graceful form, 
every turn of the small classic head, has been studied with deli- 
beration. Yet at the last moment hidden fires flame out, and 
she electrifies her fellow-actors by some unpremeditated look or 
action which nothing less than genius could inspire. 

Lord Earlswood sits across a chair, his arms folded on the 
back of it, his chin reposing on his arms, his whiskers drooping 
languidly. This is the fifth time he has assisted at the rehearsal 
of Kismet. His presence is an infliction which would be tole- 
rated from no less a person than the owner of the theatre. He 
looks up as Herman comes to the wing, nods, and smiles 
thoughtfully, with a quick glance at Mira, who, with figure 
drawn to its fullest height, and scornfully uplifted head, is 
denouncing the weak-minded lover who lias jilted her, loving 
her all the while, but sacrificing love to worldly wisdom. 

His lordship looks from the author to the actress, wondering 
how they will meet. He has not seen them together since the 
Ascot Cup-day, when their evident enjoyment of each other's 
society galled him considerably. He has long ago made up his 
mind that there is something more than friendship in Myra's 
regard for the companion of her girlish years, and he is anxious to 
Bee how she will take Mr. Westray's marriage. She received the 
news of it coolly enough, it is true, much to Lord Earlswood's 
surprise ; but then women are so artful, and have such wondrous 
self-command. The actual presence of the faithless one may be 
more trying. 

The act ends with that outburst of Myra's. Despite her sup- 
pressed tones there is a force in her utterance and a meaning in 
her gestures which thrill the small audience watching her from the 
wing ; and a little burst of spontaneous applause heralds the climax 
which is to bring down the curtain triumphantly upon act two. 

" That licks Memlock, anyhow," says Lord Earlswood approv- 

IToilayes to Fortune. 173 

ingly. " Hang your classical rot ! We bad enough of that at 
Eton. "We don't go to the theatre to be reminded of our juvenile 
canings and impositions. There's human interest here, passion, 
and what's-its-name ? How d'ye do, Westray ? " 

At sound of the name Myra looks round. Pale, wearied with 
a three hours' rehearsal, she has been for ever so long. If her 
cheek blanches now, the change is so slight as to escape even 
the watchful eye of jealousy glancing gloomily upward from 
beneath the bent brows of Lord Earlswood. 

" At last ! " exclaims Mrs. Brandreth, as she and Herman shake 
bands. " I began to think that some one else must have written 
Kismet, and that you had only given us the use of your name 
for a consideration. You seem to take so little interest in the piece." 

"I knew I was in good hands," says Herman. 

" He was ' married, and couldn't come.' Haw ! " cries his lord- 

"How much of the rehearsal have you heard?" asks Mrs. 

" Only the last half-dozen speeches. Nothing could be better. 
You will be magnificent in the close of that act. How d'ye do, 
Miss Belormond?" acknowledging that young lady's nods and 
becks and wreathed smiles. 

" How well you are looking ! " says Myra, in her friendliest 
manner ; a frankly gracious friendliness that is new to Herman, 
and which relieves him of certain anxieties that have made this 
first visit to the Frivolity in some wise a trial. " Switzerland has 
agreed with you. You look ten years younger than on that 
delightful day at Ascot." 

" And yet I was very happy on that day," replies Herman, 
moved to gallantry by her kindness. A married man has such 
an agreeable sense of freedom. He can say the sweetest things 
with impunity. 

" I think we might call the third act for to-morrow," interjects 
the stage-manager, a gentleman who wears spectacles and his hat 
tilted on to the back of his head., and has an oppressed and care- 
worn countenance, as of one whose burden is greater than he can 

" Yes," replies Myra ; " the first and second go pretty smoothly 

" Mr. Scruto wants to show you his model for the second act," 
adds the stage-manager, " if you're not in a hurry to go." 

The rehearsal is over, but the actors linger, curious to hear 
anything that Herman may have to say ; not that they intend to 
accept his ideas, good, bad, or indifferent, having already made 
up their minds as to their interpretation of his play. 

174 Hostages to Fortune. 

Herman and Myra talk over the comedy, while Lord Earlswood 
swings backwards and forwards on his chair, and Mr. Delmaine, 
the stage-manager, roams about distractedly, bawling some 
direction or question now and then at one of the wings or up to 
the flies, whence come hoarse rfinswering shouts from invisible 
sources. Herman's spiiits have risen wonderfully since he came 
in at the stage-door. He discusses his play with vivacity, 
suggests a good deal, yet avows his supreme confidence in Myra's 
taste and experience. 

They talk of the piece, and nothing but the piece, for some 
time, and then, having quite exhaused that subject, Myra says, in 
a subdued tone : 

" I must not forget to offer you my congratulations on your 
marriage. I saw Miss Moncombe with you one night when we 
were playing Hemlock. She is very lovely. You have reason 
to be proud of her." 

" I am proud of her," answers Herman. " She is as good as 
she is beautiful." 

" You will let me know her some day, I hope." 

"I shall be very glad," replies Herman ; although half an hour 
ago he would have deemed such an introduction the wildest im- 
prudence. " She is already one of your most enthusiastic 
admirers, though she has only seen you once." 

" I saw how much she was interested in the play," says Mrs. 
Brandreth ; " but I put that down to her interest in the author." 

" You did not know — " 

"No, but I could see." 

Hereupon arrives Mr. Scruto the scene-painter, with his neat 
little cardboard model of the set for act two. Nothing can be 
more perfect in its way. It represents the garden of a villa at 
Nice, with the sunlit sea beyond, and an angle of the villa occu- 
pying one side of the foreground. The open windows reveal the 
pretty salon within, and in and out of these windows the dramatis 
personce are to circulate. 

Mr. Scruto's work-is praised, a suggestion or two made by Mr. 
Delmaine, and approved by Mrs. Brandreth, and then the whole 
business of rehearsal is over. The prompter's boy puts up the 
call for to-morrow : 

Kismet, act three, at 11. 
Ladies of the Ballet. 

Which latter announcement means that guests are to meander in 
and out during the last scene of the play. Mrs. Brandreth has a knack 
of training her ballet ladies to look like real flesh and blood, and even 
patrician flesh and blood. She shows them how to group themselves, 

Hostages to Fortune. 175 

how to fall into natural attitudes, to sit or stand, to take up one of the 
showy volumes on a table and seem really to examine its illustra- 
tions, to exchange little friendly greetings with one another, and, 
nuove all, not to abandon themselves to vacant contemplation or! 
the audience. In the matter of gloves, shoes, hair-dressing, and 
all small details, Madame Vestris herself could sot have been 
more exacting. " And mind," says the arbitrary Myra, " I will 
have no lip salve used in this theatre, making your mouths 
look as if your were in the last stage of scarlet-fever ; and no 

Tliis last mysterious phrase is fully understood by the young 
ladies to whom it is addressed. It simply means that the use of 
a smoke-blackened hairpin, by which some fair coryphees in- 
tensify the lustre of their eyes, is forbidden at the Frivolity. 

The result of this wise tyranny is a happy one. Very fair and 
fresh are the faces of Mrs. Brandreth's corps de ballet, while 
many a hard-working young woman learns the elements of good 
acting from Myra's judicious instructions. 

Herman goes home that day with a mind quite at ease. He 
had dreaded the effect of his marriage upon Myra, weakly and 
foolishly perhaps, since he was not responsible for any fancies 
of hers. It is an infinite relief to him to find that she can 
take matters so easily, and even ask to be presented to his wife. 

" It would have been difficult to keep those two apart if I am 
to go on writing for the Frivolity," he muses ; " but I don't 
think now that there's any danger in their meeting. Myra will 
be sensible enough not to be too confidential with my wife." 

He remembers his conversation with Editha on the rocky 
margin of the Pennant, and he feels very sure that his young 
wife would not care to accept among her acquaintance that other 
who jilted him years ago. He trusts to Mrs. Brandreth's discretion, 
however, and would not for worlds wain her against any revela- 
tion of the past. 

The first night of Kismet comes after three more weeks of 
laborious preparation, and day and night rehearsals during the 
last week, and the last two of these full dress, with lights and 
scenery and properties as on the night of performance. In a 
word, Mrs. Brandreth rehearses a modern comedy — whieh pre- 
tends to be an intellectual effort — as carefully as a provincial 
manager of the first-class rehearses his Christmas pantomime. 

The plot of the play is simple, but affords large scope for 
passion. Estella Bond, a girl of humble birth and position, has 
been engaged to Paul Mortmain, a landscape painter and a 
young man of family ; they have loved with intensity, and have 
felt themselves intended for each other by fate. The man, by a 

176 Hostages to Fortune. 

sudden turn of Fortune's wheel, has all at once become possessed 
of large wealth ; whereupon, urged by a worldly counsellor, who 
shows him that the promised wife of Paul Mortmain, the painter, 
the nobody, is no fitting mate for Paul Mortmain, master of the 
great Mortmain estates, he deserts his betrothed, first executing 
a deed of gift which is to give her independence. 

Her first use of independence is to educate herself to the 
level of her false lover ; her second to transfer the twenty thou- 
sand pounds he has bestowed upon her to the Asylum for Super- 
annuated Governesses. 

" 1 have education now," she says, " and can fight the battle of 
life ! " 

She seeks an engagement as governess or companion ; obtains 
one in the latter capacity with Mrs. Wilding, a young widow, 
residing at Nice ; arrives at the widow's villa, and finds that the 
widow is seriously disposed to sink that title for wife, the hus- 
band in view being Paul Mortmain. 

Mrs. Wilding, lovely, weak, aristocratic, and gushing, confides 
freely in Estella, who, on her part, contrives to avoid encounter- 
ing Paul Mortmain, till a happy stage accident brings them face to 
face at the end of the second act, and evokes from Estella a wither- 
ing denunciation of the man's meanness, a scathing repudiation of 
his would-be generosity — his twenty thousand pounds, which 
have gone " to solace the declining days of women who have 
known enough of the worthlessness of men's love and the 
hollowness of men's oaths to prefer toil, helplessness, solitude, 
dependence — ay, starvation — to the bitterness of violated faith 
and wasted affection." 

She pours a flood of angry passion upon her lover's shame- 
bowed head ; every stage of that long speech, broken only by 
inter jectional remonstrances from the lover, rises in intensity, 
wavers from scorn to tenderness, from anger to love — yet always 
mounting in passion — till the final words which bid him leave 
her, and forget that he has ever loved or ever wronged her, as 
she from that hour will blot his name and image from her mind. 
Little perhaps in the fabric of the play : only that skilful use of 
old materials which marks the originality of the nineteenth cen- 
tury ; but the language is forcible and eloquent, and the acting 
has the fire of true genius. That second act stamps the success 
of Kismet. 

" I said there was go in it," remarks Lord Earlswood, contem- 
plating the ruin of his gloves, which he has split in the storm of 
applause that greeted Myra's recall. " The fellows in the stalls 
like to see two women quarrelling about one man. It's agreeable 
to masculine self-esteem. Haw ! " 

Hostages to Fortune. 177 

The third act shows Paul Mortmain's impassioned pursuit of 
the woman he has wronged. He has been false to his destiny in 
leaving her. His old fancy about fate has never quite left him. 
Nothing has gone well with him since his desertion of Estella. 
His favourite horse has thrown him viciously ; he has taken a 
fever while electioneering in his county town, and has escaped 
Death's clutch by the skin of his teeth. Wealth has proved 
something less than happiness. He now humiliates himself 
before the woman who once loved him ; but she tells him love 
died with the death of respect. He is no more to her than the 
strangers she passes in the streets. Let him marry the lovely 
widow who adores him. 

" Butterflies are fond of flowers," replies Paul. " I would as 
soon have the butterfly's love as the widow's — their brain-power 
must be about equal." 

" You have wronged me," says Estella ; " you shall not wrong 
her. You have broken your promise to me ; you must keep your 
promise to her. Prudence as well as honour demands it. No 
man can be twice disloyal with impunity." 

Estella leaves him in the widow's boudoir, which is the scene 
of this last act. He seats himself at Mrs. Wilding's davenport, 
and writes his final appeal to his old love, not without a con- 
temptuous allusion to the volatile widow, who has taken his 
fancy captive for a while, but never touched his heart. This 
letter, written with passionate haste, is blotted in Mrs. Wilding's 
blotting-book. She enters immediately upon Paul's exit, sees 
the disturbed state of the davenport, the papers thrown about, 
the pens ruthlessly scattered, and is attracted by the thick black 
impression on the blotter. " Paul's hand ! " 

She is curious enough to tear out the sheet of blotting-paper 
and hold it up to the light, and there reads disjointed sentences 
of Paul's letter. 

He returns just as she has locked the evidence of his perfidy in 
the secret drawer of the davenport, returns '^ith a letter in his 
hand, his own, sent back unopened by EsteLa, who is on the point 
of leaving for England. 

In his anger with his first love he returns to his second. He 
throws himself at Laura's feet, tells her that in her innocent and 
gentle nature he has found the balm for an old wound that has 
pierced deep, but is not incurable — offers her that milk-and- 
waterish affection which men who have squandered all their 
wealth of emotion upon the idol of their youth generously bestow 
on the consoler of their riper years ; but offers it with such fervor 
and energy as might pass current for genuine passion. 

Laura tools him to the top of his bent, hears all he has to say, 

178 Hostages to Fortune. 

and then shows him the blotting-paper. Satisfied with his 
humiliation, she is generous and womanly enough to help him. 

" Estella loves you," she says ; " I guessed her secret the day 
you met — read it in her face. My suspicions had been awakened 
by her studious avoidance of you, and I brought about that un- 
expected meeting in order to test you both. I saw enough in 
those few moments of surprise and agitation to convince me that 
I had never possessed your heart, that she had never lost it." 

She goes on to suggest that he shall pretend to have received 
a telegram announcing that the whole of his fortune has been 
ingulfed in a bank failure. He shall seem to be reduced at a 
blow to his old position of dependence on a precarious profes- 
sion, the exercise of which he has abandoned long enough to 
have lost much of his old skill — all his old patrons. 

He puts this plan into execution with some dexterity, aided by 
the minor characters, whose comedy enlivens the scene ; and 
Estella, haughty, determined to the last, at the moment of start- 
ing for the railway-station, hears that her lover is a pauper, and 
hears him ridiculed and insulted by Mrs. Wilding, who pretends 
to exult in his downfall. 

This undeserved humiliation moves her more than all. In a 
noble burst of passion she turns upon Laura, denounces her un- 
womanly conduct, and then flings herself upon Paul's breast, 
whereat the happy-dispositioned widow breaks into a peal of 
rippling laughter, and Estella learns that she has been duped. 

So the play — with its light-comedy underplot — ends in every- 
body's happiness, as a stage-play should end, and Mrs. Brandreth 
achieves one of those signal triumphs which make an actress's 

Editha and her husband have watched the play together, 
seated side by side in the snug little stage-box, and not once has 
Herman left his wife throughout the performance, anxious as he 
may have been to slip behind the scenes and hear what the actors 
think of the success of each act. He has kept his place by 
Editha, who has looked and listened almost breathlessly, from the 
first line to the last, with an anxiously-beating heart. It is the 
first time she has assisted at any triumph of Herman's, and her 
cheek glows and her eye brightens as she turns to him at the fall 
of the curtain. 

"I am so glad, Herman," she says, in her low ; sweet voice. 
That is all. 

" You really like the piece, dear ? That's right. The house is 
tremendously noisy, isn't it ? But these first nights are so delu- 
sive. There's an electric current of gpod-nafure circulating 
among the audience. Even the critics applaud heartily, you see, 

Hostages to Fortune. 179 

and yet perhaps some of them will go home and abuse tho 

Lord Earlswood and Mr. Lyndhurst come into the box to con- 
gratulate the author and to be presented to the author's wife, 
and Herman, whether he likes it or not, has to admit Hamilton 
Lyndhurst to the roll of Editha's acquaintance. A thing hardly 
to be avoided anyhow, as Lyndhurst is always to the fore in 
literary and artistic circles, and is made much of by those very 
people whose society is most agreeable to Herman. 

"Dooced well little Walters plays the widow," says Lord Earls- 
wood ; ''the first time she's ever risen above your waiting-maid 
business. Brandreth taught her every bit of business, every 
look and tone ; almost made a lady of her, in short. It was 
wonderful to see her train that slangy little beggar. That laugh 
was Brandreth's. She taught little Walters note by note. Finest 
thing in drilling I ever saw ; they used to go at it for a quarter 
of an hour at a stretch ; I hoard 'em one morning." 

"How clever Mrs. Brandreth must be, and how patient!" says 
Editha warmly. She is grateful to the actress whose art has 
helped Herman to achieve success. 

Hamilton Lyndhurst looks at her curiously. Herman has just 
slipped out of the box, and gone behind the scenes to congratu- 
late Myra, as in duty bound. 

'• Yes, Mrs. Brandreth is clever," assents Lyndhurst, in his 
tranquil legato tones ; " one of the cleverest women in London, 
and a woman whose genius is always undergoing development. 
She'll give the world some startling proof of her cleverness 
before she has done with it." 

" I think she has given sufficient evidence of her genius by to- 
night's performance," replies Editha. "And what exquisite 
taste she has shown in every detail ! Herman has reason to be 
grateful to her." 

" And no doubt is — eminently grateful ; authors always are," 
says Lyndhurst. " There's hardly a manager in London whose 
dinner-table is not resplendent with the tributary epergnes and 
claret-jugs of grateful dramatists." 

'• Xice taste in colour, hasn't she ? " asks Earlswood, still sing- 
iri.L r Myra's praises. " Nothing in the draperies or dresses to set 
one's teeth on edge." 

'' Pearly grays, changeful opals, amaranth, and primrose — - 
gentl" reposeful tints that remind one of Leighton's pictures," 
says Lyndhurst. 

" How do you like the moral of your husband's play, Mrs. 
Westray ? " a=ks Lord Earls-wood. "It has a moral, T suppose?" 

" ' There is no moral, little or big, in the Iliad," says Lynd- 

180 Hostages to Fortune. 

hurst, quoting De Quincey. " The greatest works of literary art 
have been innocent of moral teaching. Mr. Westray's play in- 
culcates no moral, but it illustrates a universal truth. A man 
can love honestly but once in his life ; all after feeling is mere 
imitation of the first and only genuine passion. The French 
mind has a knack of telling the secrets of humanity in a touch- 
and-go proverb : On revient toujours a ses premiers amours." 

A look of distress clouds Editha's face for a moment. 

" I don't think my husband would agree with you upon that 
question, Mr. Lyndhurst," she answers gravely. 

" And yet he has written Kismet, which deifies first love, and 
degrades a second attachment to mere fancy and foolishness," 
says Lyndhurst lightly. " I leave you to examine him as to 
his intentions, Mrs. Westray, and arrive at his real meaning if 
you can." 

Editha listens with a disquieted heart. Has not Herman con- 
fessed, with praiseworthy frankness, that his first love has not 
been given to her? And here in this stage-play of his own 
writing — and it may be that a man unconsciously and involun- 
tarily reveals his convictions through his art — Herman has 
shown her that first love is a thing imperishable, immortal as the 
soul which it illumines with its divine fire. 

" Gould I ever love any one else as I love him ? " she asks her- 
self. " If we were parted to-morrow, and I were to live half a 
century, would his image ever be faded, or his influence upon 
my life be lessened ? True love is above time or change." 

She remembers that her lover has described that first attach- 
ment of his as something less than pure love. Here is a loop- 
hole for hope. 

Lord Earlswood retires presently, and follows Herman to the 
greenroom. Hamilton Lyndhurst remains until Herman's re- 
turn. He has a knack of making himself agreeable to women of 
every rank, from a dowager duchess of seventy to a lionne of 
the Chateau des Fleurs or Jardin Mabille, and he contrives to 
make his conversation pleasing to Editha in this quarter of an 
hour tete-a-tete. He shows her the notabilities among the 
audience, an attention which Herman's natural anxiety for the 
success of his play has prevented his paying his wife. Mr. 
Lyndhurst knows everybody, and can say something amusing 
about everybody — not always the most good-natured thing that 
can be said of a fellow human creature, but, always said with 
an easy good-natured air, which takes the sting out of sarcasm. 

Editha listens with a certain interest, yet with some degree of 
constraint. Mr. Lyndhurst belongs to that new world to which 
her husband has admitted her ; a world in which all man's loftiest 

Hostages to Fortune. 181 

feelings and moral qualities seem absolutely at a discount; a 
world in which to be clever and get the better of one's neighbour 
appears the one positive virtue ; a world in which every man 
and woman exists for his or her own exclusive benefit, and bends 
every faculty to one relentless pursuit, individual advantage ; a 
world in which every traveller glides along a single line of rail 
to his own particular terminus, and regards the comfort and well- 
being of all other wayfarers as a question remote from the pur- 
pose of his being, a subject upon which philanthropists may 
squander their superfluous energies, and by means of which loud- 
mouthed agitators may bring themselves into notice. 

Herman comes back to the box looking radiant. The actors 
are delighted with the piece, and pronounce it a greater success 
than Hemlock. 

'• You shall have your victoria next week, darling," he whispers 
to Editha. 

Carriage or no carriage is a question that has been discussed 
between Mr. and Mrs. Westray more than once during the last 
three weeks. Herman does not like to see his wife deprived of a 
luxury to which she has been accustomed. Editha pleads on 
the side of prudence. She is anxious to be a prudent, economical 
wife, and she feels that existence in the Fulham villa is more 
expensive than it ought to be, and that her notions of house- 
keeping, as illustrated in her dealings with Jane the cook, are 
somewhat weak and shadowy. 

Herman is in such good humour with all the world that he 
forgets his old idea of Mr. Lyndhurst as an acquaintance to be 
dropped after his marriage, and invites that gentleman to dinner. 

" Come to us to-morrow, if you've nothing better to do," he 
says ; " I've asked Mrs. Brandreth. She is dying to know you, 
Editha. To-morrow will suit you, I suppose, won't it dear ? " 

" To-moiTow is Sunday, you know, Herman." 

"Of course. Sunday is the only day she can come to us. I 
hope your cook will manage to give us an eatable dinner ; or 
perhaps it would be better to go to the Star and Garter. It 
would be a pleasant drive down to Eichmond, wouldn't it, Lynd- 

'' The Star and Garter by all means, rather than inflict trouble 
upon Mrs. Westray," replies Lyndhurst. " Let the dinner be my 
affair as well as yours, Westray ; and we may as well ask some 
more people. Little Miss Walters, for instance — a most amusing 
beg — a very estimable young lady, Mrs. Westray — and Earls- 
wood. He'll be awfully savage at being shut out if Brandreth 

"I asked Earlswood just now. He comes in any case." 


182 xioitagio iu lormne. 

Editha turns to her husband with that serious look of hers 
which impressed him at their first meeting — that expression which 
he then called strong-mindedness. 

" I. shall be very happy to receive your friends in our own 
house, Herman, even on Sunday," she says ; " but I certainly 
would not go to an hotel to dine upon a Sunday evening." 

" Don't you think that's a distinction without a difference, Mrs. 
Westray ? " asks Lyndhurst. " You are fond of social straw- 
splitting in the country. However, I, for my part, shall esteem 
it a greater honour to dine with you in your own house than any- 
where else." 

" So be it. Seven o'clock to-morrow then, Lyndhurst. You 
know Bridge-end House ? " 

" Perfectly." 

" We're almost neighbours of yours, by the way." 

" Within a stone's throw." 

Mr. Lyndhurst accompanies Mrs. Westray to her carriage, and 
watches it depart. 

" She reminds me of Clarissa Harlowe," he says to himself, as 
he stands waiting for his brougham, " and is at least a century 
behind the age she lives in. But she is just the one fresh, fair, 
unspotted, and perfect woman it has been my lot to meet. For 
such a woman as that I would ' turn virtuous, and eschew cakes 
and ale.'" 

" I wish we could avoid Sunday dinner-parties, Herman," 
Editha says gently, as they drive away from the theatre. 

" We can't, dear, while we live in civilised society." 

The honeymoon is over, and the husband answers with marital 

"We'll go to Long-acre on Monday, darling, and choose 
your oarriage," he says gaily, putting his arm round his wife's 

" Dear Herman, it is so good of you to think about it ; but I 
can do very well without a carriage. And unless you are quite 
sure you can afford it — " 

" I can afford it easily. The success of Kismet will put hun- 
dreds in my pocket ; and instead of walking about the dull old 
Fulham lanes, you shall drive in Hyde Park, or to Bichmond or 

" What is the moral of Kismet, Herman ? " Editha asks ir- 

" Moral, my dear ! I don't think there is a moral." 

" Yet it seems to mean, Herman, if it means anything, that a 
man can love only once. .Paul thinks .he is cured of bis first love, 
but the end shows that first love is destiny." 

Hostages to Fortune. 183 

" Of course. When it is real love, like mine for you." 

" But I am not your first love, Herman. You have confessed 
as much." 

" I have confessed that you are not the first woman who ever 
seemed charming in my sight ; not the first woman I ever made 
love to. But you are the first I have ever deeply and really 

" Are you sure of that, dearest ? " 

" Very sure. As sure as I am that we can afford a victoria, and 
that the wretched female who calls herself a cook will spoil the 
iliiiiier to-morrow." 


" The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions — the little, soon 
forgotten charities of a kiss, a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment 
in the disguise of playful raillery, and the countless other infinitesimals of 
pleasurable thought and genial feeling." 

Herman's prophecy about the dinner is not unrealised. Jane the 
cook has not .been dismissed abruptly, as he desired. She is a 
young person of eminently respectable appearance, who seems 
good-natured, and anxious to please. She has wept at any allusion 
to warning, and appealed to Editha's soft-heartedness. She has 
declared piteously that no former master ever complained of her 
cooking, and she has thrown the burden of all her shortcomings 
upon that mute offender, the kitchen-range. No one — not a pro- 
fessed cook at seventy guineas a year — could send up a decent din- 
ner from such a range. It is a range of demoniac inconsistency, 
and will roast the joint to a cinder and leave the poultry half raw. 
It will send up stony-hearted potatoes, and reduce cauliflowers to 
a watery pulp. It will dry macaroni to chips, yet hardly afford 
heat enough to penetrate a pair of soles. 

Jane declares with tears that the range is preying upon her 
mind, and that she can't sleep for thinking of it. The parlour- 
maid, who happens to be Jane's first cousin, sustains her relation's 
statement. " Them open ranges ain't a bit of use, mum," she 
says. " You scarcely see 'em any where's now, since the kitchingers 
have come up." So Editha informs her husband that she fears 
they will never get on without a new kitchen-stove, though with 

184 Hostages to fortune. 

inward wonder how the great open fire at Lochwithian had con- 
trived to cook everything so nicely, with aid from the charcoal 
hot-plate only on state occasions ; and Herman, ever careless 
about household trifles, calls at Molding and Korness's en passant, 
and tells them to send him in the best thing in kitcheners. The 
article is out of their line, perhaps, but they can order it from 
the proper people. 

The kitchener being set, with a good deal of dirt, muddle, and 
general upheaving of the kichen department, proves itself 
curiously imitative of the superseded range. The potatoes still 
exhibit a tendency to stony-heartedness ; the cauliflowers are 
still pulpy ; the soles make up in grease what they want in 

Editha gently suggests that the looked-f or improvement has not 
yet shown itself. 

Jane has recourse to the corner of her white apron — a very 
clean girl, Jane, in the matter of aprons — and protests that no 
master ever was so hard to please as Mr. Westray. 

" But really, Jane, the fish was underdone. I tried to eat it 
myself, but couldn't." 

"You see, mum, a new kitchener never works quite right; 
when I get to know my stove it will be different. Leastways, if 
master has got the right kind of stove. I can't say as I quite 
hold with this one." 

Happily for Mr. and Mrs. Westray, their guests upon this par- 
ticular Sunday evening are not people who care very much 
whether their dinner be good, bad, or indifferent. Lord Earls- 
wood is entirely without gastronomical taste or refinement; 
Hamilton Lyndhurst is learned in the nicest shades of high-art 
cookery, but is able, when he finds himself face to face with a 
badly-cooked dinner, to suspend his appetite in a manner, satisfy 
the mere cravings of nature with the wing of a fowl and his 
dinner-roll, and put off the actual process of dining till to-mor- 
row ; Mrs. Brandreth is too spirituelle to care for the pleasures of 
the table ; and Barkly Tollemy, the dramatic critic, who com- 
pletes the small party, is an intellectual giant, who takes what- 
ever is set before him in the way of meat or drink with a 
serenity which is the distinguishing characteristic of himself and 
his writing. 

Myra has never been more charming than on this occasion. 
There is a repose in her manner which is different from the 
received idea of a comedy -actress. She wears black velvet, high 
to the throat, with ruffles of old guipure. A pearl pendent, and a 
single pearl in each small ear, are her only ornaments. In this 
dress her graceful figure and aristocratic head appear to perfec- 

Hostages to Fortune. 185 

tion, and Editha thinks her handsomer in this softly-lighted room 
than last night in the glare of the footlights. 

The two women get on pretty well together on this first meet- 
ing, though they have few thoughts in common. Editha thanks 
the actress for her exquisite impersonation of Herman's heroine, 
and they talk a good deal of his dramatic works, past, present, 
and to come. But of the past — of those youthful days when she 
and Herman were playfellows, neighbours, friends, and ultimately 
lovers — Myra says not one word. Time enough to speak of that 
unforgotten past when the hour for such revelation ripens. To- 
night Mrs. Brandreth obtains credit for tact and kindly feeling by 
this wise reticence. Any allusion to his early manhood would 
have been painful to Herman, and he is grateful to Myra for her 

Mrs. Brandreth contemplates the small household with an eye 
that notes every detail. The ill-cooked dinner, the slow service 
which lengthens its humiliation, gratify her angry soul ; for she 
sees Herman's irritation, and knows that such petty vexations 
are sometimes strong enough to weaken the bonds of love. She 
sees Editha's woe-stricken look when the turkey poult crumbles 
off his bones under the carving-knife, as if he had been discovered 
at some banquet-table at Pompeii, and lapsed into dust at ex- 
posure to the upper air. She notes the many small annoyances 
which vex the husband, the secret anxieties of the wife, and tells 
herself that life's honeymoon is over. 

" Foolish people ! " she thinks. " If they lived at an hotel and 
dined at a table-oVhote, they might go on being turtle-doves for 
the next ten years. But servants and an ill-managed house will 
estrange them more surely than the treachery of false friends." 

Dinner once done with, its manes appeased with a glass of mara- 
schino or chartreuse, and a bottle of burgundy circulating among 
the four gentlemen, the evening is pleasant enough. Mr. Tollemy 
is in good form, and talks metaphysics in a manner which 
delights Herman and sorely puzzles Editha. Where, in that 
region of abstract thought to which Mr. Tollemy soars after his 
second glass of chambertin, is there a place for the simple creed 
which has made life — and the dim world beyond life — so sweet 
to her thoughts, so easy of comprehension, so straight and clear 
and good ? That Mr. Tollemy talks well, and that Herman and 
he understand each other, she knows ; but when she tries to 
follow them, she feels like one lost in some shadowy wood, 
where unclean thingB lurk among the undergrowth, and may start 
out upon her at any moment. 

Lyndhurst tries to interest her, but fails. She is listening to 
Herman. In her abstraction she forgets that it is time for her to 

186 Hostages to Fortune. 

rise, until, looking across at Mrs. Brandreth, she sees a shade of 
weariness on that lady's face, Lord Earlswood's conversation not 
bsing particularly interesting, and is reminded of her duties as 

The two ladies retire to the drawing-room, where numerous 
wax-candles twinkle gaily in crystal sconces against the walls, 
and where there is abundance of old china, photographs, and 
flowers to admire, Herman being in the habit of bringing home 
pretty things, and not being thoughtful enough in financial 
matters to consider that these perpetual droppings of stray 
sovereigns and five-pound notes will wear away the most sub- 
stantial income. 

Again the talk is of Herman and dramatic art. The open piano 
suggests music, and Editha plays a sacred air of Mendelssohn's 
with perfect feeling. Mrs. Brandreth declines when asked to 
play or sing. 

" I know no sacred music," she says. " I fear you would be 
shocked if I were to sing a French ballad or a German student's 
song, and those are the only airs I have at my fingers' ends." 

Editha does not say she would not be shocked, so the subject 
drops, until the gentlemen appear, when Lord Earlswood pleads 
warmly for Chaumont's famous ballad, "La premiere Feuille," 
and, Herman entreating also, Mrs. Brandreth apologises to Editha, 
and sings deliciously that most bewitching of chansons. 

The gentlemen implore her not to leave the piano till she has 
sung something else, and she obeys with a pretty deprecating air, 
and sings a fine patriotic song, to be found in books of Volks- 
lieder, "Des Deutschen Vaterland." She sings it with a dash 
and spirit that delight her auditors. Mr. Tollemy's gray head 
waggles enthusiastically over the piano, and the four gentlemen 
join in the chorus : 

" O nein, O nein, nein 1 

Sein Vaterland muss grosser sein ! " 

When Myra has risen from the piano, Hamilton Lyndhurst 
seats himself unasked, strikes a few chords, and sings a little 
love song of Shelley's in the noblest baritone voice that Editha 
has ever heard. Song is Mr. Lyndhurst's one gift, and he pos- 
sesses that gift in a superlative degree. Few professional singers 
of the day who would not fear such a rival. While the deep rich 
voice dwells on the sweet sad words, with perfect enunciation 
of every syllable, Editha forgets that it is Sunday evening, and 
that Shelley is a bard who would hardly find a place among 
Hymns Ancient and Modem. 

Iloslajcs to Fortune. 187 

Lyndhurst looks up at the fair grave face, and sees that rapt 
look, which bespeaks a listener with a soul for melody. 

" Come," he says, "I'll sing something better than Shelley for 
von, Mrs. Westray." 

He sings " Rock of Ages," as that sublime hymn has been 
rarely sung in a drawing-room ; sings as with religious fervour ; 
pings with a simple intensity of feeling that brings a flood of 
tears to Editha's eyes. He sees her turn away and hide her face 
in her handkerchief, and smiles gravely to himself as he bends 
over the piano, playing the closing chords softly, slowly, with a 
dying fall. And not a note more will he sing to-night, though 
Myra entreats for a song of Blumenthal's. 

"" There's comfort still, she is assailable," he says to himself. 

It is after midnight when the guests depart, and when Herman 
comes back to the drawing-room he finds Editha standing by the 
piano with a thoughtful face. 

" Herman," she begins, with ever so slight a tremulousness of 
tone, " I must ask you not to give any more Sunday dinner-par- 
ties. I always went to evening service at Lochwithian, and I 
should like to do the same here. "Will you mind very much if 
we dine at six o'clock on Sundays, and invite our friends on any 
other day than Sunday ? " 

Herman shrugs his shoulders. He sees that his wife is veiy 
much in earnest. That strong-mindedness he dreaded has come 
out already. He remembers what Dewrance said about their 
unfitness for each other, and has an uncomfortable feeling that 
they are on the threshold of their first quarrel. 

" My dear love," he says, " to deprive me of the right to 
invite my friends on Sunday is to sever me from some of my 
pleasantest associations. There isTollemy, for instance, one of 
the cleverest men I know, and a most valuable ally. You'll see 
how Kismet will be reviewed in the Day Star to-morrow. Now 
Sunday is Tollemy's great day for dining with his friends. He 
prefers the sans gene of his club on week-days." 

" And are we to profane the Sabbath, Herman, because Mr. 
Tollemy likes dining out on that day, and will praise your play 
in the Day Star? Isn't that buying his good word at the price 
of principle ? " 

" I was not brought up in Glasgow, and have no Sabbatarian 
leanings," answers Herman, pale with anger. " As for influ- 
encing Tollemy, you don't know what you. are talking about. 
He is a man whose society is only too much in request, and who 
does me honour when he consents to eat an ill-cooked dinner in 
my house. By the way, that woman must go to-morrow, Editha, 
if you wish me to dine at home." 

188 Hostages to Fortune. 

"If I wish you to dine at home! Herman, how can you say 
that? It is not very much that I ask — only that we may have 
no more Sunday dinner-parties When I thought of the peaceful 
Sunday evenings at Lochwithian, the quiet little church, the 
simple, earnest congregation, Mr. Petherick's kind voice and 
thoughtful teaching, full of faith and hope, and all that is 
brightest in religion, and heard you and Mr. Tollemy talking of 
that last book which has tried to argue Christianity into a fable, 
I felt as if I had fallen from a happy God-fearing world into the 
company of sceptics and infidels." 

" My dear Editha, if you would think more of the dinner and 
less of the after-dinner conversation, you would be a better wife 
for a literary man who has his way to make in the world," re- 
plies Herman, stifling a yawn as he lights his chamber candle. 
"I wonder what the Day Star will say of Kismet? " 


" Felicity, pure and unalloyed Felicity, is not a plant of earthly growth ; 
her gardens are the Skies." 

That first difference of opinion — it can hardly be called a quarrel 
— ends as such disputes usually do between newly-wedded lovers. 
Each surrenders a little. Herman promises only to invite people 
on Sunday when hard pushed by circumstances. Editha pro- 
mises to find a better cook, but stands like a rock to attendance 
at Sunday-evening service at the grave old parish -church. Jane 
Tubbs departs, tearful and reproachful to the last, casting the 
burden of her sins on the kitchener ; and Ann Files comes in 
her stead, after a charwoman, suggested by the housemaid, has 
come in to clean the numerous corners, cupboards, and secret 
places in which Miss Tubbs has accumulated all the dirt and 
broken crockery that has accrued during her reign. Three out 
of six of the Etrurian beer-jugs are carried off in the dustcart 
with other fragmentary delf ; and on the first morning of her 
service the new cook informs Editha that there isn't a pie-dish 
or a pudding-basin in the place, that the bread-pan is cracked, 
and that there isn't a dish belonging to the kitchen dinner-service 
that doesn't leak, " along of letting 'em stand too long in the 
oven," explains cook. 

Hostages to Fortune. 189 

Cook number two is stout and middle-aged, a matron of emi- 
nently respectable appearance. She is a considerable improve- 
ment upon the last functionary in culinary skill, and contrives 
tn scud up savoury little dinners which do not offend Herman's 
educated senses. This is an unspeakable relief to Editha, who 
has grown to regard dinner-time as the baneful hour of every 
day. She has yet to discover that this treasure of culinary art 
lias a hungry family circle residing in an adjacent lane, and 
deriving their chief sustenance from Mr. Westray's kitchen. 
Jane Tubbs contented herself with wholesale wastefulness and 
the liberal entertainment of an extensive circle of acquaint- 
ance ; Ann Files robs more systematically, introduces a more 
orderly system of expenditure, and therefore appears more honest. 
Those differences in the weekly bills which have perplexed Editha 
no longer occur ; but the bills are uniformly heavy. 

" We seem to eat a great deal of bread, Files," Editha remarks, 

" Yes, mum ; both the young women are hearty eaters, and 
I know you wouldn't like me to stint them in bread" replies 

•• Of course not. I should be sorry for them to be stinted in 

" To be sure, mum. Any lady would," rejoins the cook, with 
dignity, as one who has a nice perception of what a lady's 
feelings ought to be. " As for me, if the baker never corned it 
wouldn't make much difference ; half a slice at breakfast is all 
I trouble the loaf for." 

This is not unveracious, Mrs. Files preferring malt to wheat, 
and taking her nourishment from the beer-barrel rather than the 

That housekeeping is a very expensive business, Editha has 
not been slow to discover. She pays her bills weekly, and is 
precise and careful in the inspection of the tradesmen's books, 
yet somehow everything seems to cost a great deal more than it 
ought. There is never anything left from the late dinner that 
can be made available for the kitchen next day. Joints resolve 
themselves into "pickings" for those voracious housemaids' 
supper ; a hash is not to be thought of ; curry the housemaids 
cannot eat ; " and I shouldn't like to put a curry made of twice- 
cooked meat before master, mum," says Files, conscientiously ; 
" it would seem like imposing upon him." 

A beefsteak-pudding for the early dinner swallows four pounds 
of Bteak. The loins of pork that Editha has paid for under the 
regime of Jane Tubbs would have kept an eating-house going. 
Ann Files affects nice little bits of corned beef, which never 

100 Hostages to Fortune. 

appear as less than nine shillings in the butcher's book, and are 
never to be heard of next day. Groceries of all kinds disappear 
in the same proportions, and there is a heavy demand for eggs, 
butter, cheese, and bacon. Candles are lively, and flour is never 
dull. Editha, without exactly supposing that she is being robbed, 
has an uneasy sense that the housekeeping expenses are much 
heavier than they ought to be. She has to ask Herman so often 
for money ; and the sums he gives her — always liberal — seem to 
melt through her fingers. She wonders how her father can have 
contrived to support that great household at Lochwithian, and no 
longer marvels at those occasional bemoanings on the subject of 
finance which have rippled the calm current of home-life at the 

Herman is unconsciously a cause of expense. He has a habit 
of saying, when his dinner does not particularly please liim, " My 
love, couldn't you give me a wild duck now and then ? " or, "My 
dear, I saw quails at the Roscius yesterday. Let us have some 
quails ; " and Editha will give any price the poulterer likes to 
charge for the birds Herman fancies. He likes an omelet for 
breakfast, and on the strength of these omelets, Ann Files takes 
in two shillings-worth of eggs daily. 

Herman is now able to invite his friends to dinner without 
enduring tortures as each dish is placed on the table ; but the 
cost of these little dinners is awful. Ann Files is a disciple of 
that French artist who could reduce half a dozen hams into an 
essence to" be contained in an ounce bottle. A shin of beef, two 
knuckles of ham, and one of veal barely suffice for the small 
tureen of clear soup which begins the banquet. True the clear 
soup is good, but still better is the noble mess of beef a. la mode 
which Ann Files's sister-in-law carries home with her that night, 
in a spoutless beer jug, under cover of the darkness ; and savoury 
are those nice little shanks of ham which Ann Files's brother 
discusses at breakfast next morning. The Fulham confectioner's 
entrees at seven and sixpence and half a guinea are dirt cheap 
as compared with Ann Files's veal olives —a small dish whereof 
necessitates the sacrifice of half a fillet of veal — or those mutton 
cutlets which can only be put on the table at the cost of a whole 
neck of mutton. 

" I uses the scrag and all the orkard bits for my gravies, you 
see, mum," explains Files; notwithstanding which the article 
gravy-beef figures like a running accompaniment to the joints in 
the butcher's book. 

Nothing ever remains over at these banquets, however small 
the party. It would seem as if Mrs. Westray's guests reversed 
the order of things, and adapted their consumption to the supply. 

Hostages to Fortune. 191 

But this phenomenon of total evanishment Mrs. Files is aisle to 
explain in a simple and rational manner, when interrogated 
timidly by Editha. 

" That young man as comes to wait, mum, and a very re- 
spectable well-conducted young man he is ; no flirting nor non- 
sense with the young women ; but as for appetites, I never see 
anything like it. The supper that young man eats, after he's 
taken in the tea and coffee, would astonish you. And it's 
customary to give them their suppers off the dishes as leave 
the table, which I'm sure you wouldn't like me to do less than is 
usual ; besides which, if you balked him that way, he'd be putting 
his fingers into my dishes, and nibbling of 'em outside the dining- 
room door." 

" 0, the man must have his supper, of course," says Editha. 

" I'm very glad we've no footman, Herman," she remarks that 
evening, when she and her husband happened to speak of 
domestic matters ; " the way that young man Moiser eats is 
really dreadful." 

" You mean the fellow that waits. He's a very decent waiter, 
that fellow, moves about quietly, doesn't rattle the spoons or 
jingle the glasses. Let him eat as much as he likes, dear, and 
don't you worry yourself about it. By the bye, what a charming 
little dinner you gave us last night ! We are improving in our 

" I'm so glad you think so, Herman," Editha says, brightening ; 
" but I'm afraid these little dinners are very expensive." 

" Of course, dear ; everything that's worth anything costs 
money ; but they must be much cheaper at home than anywhere 
else. In the matter of wines, for instance ; that moselle we 
■were drinking last night would be fifteen shillings a bottle at 
Bichmond or Greenwich, and it only stands me in sever; and 

" Herman, will you send in a little more moselle, please ? I 
put out the last half-dozen bottles yesterday." 

" What, the six cases gone already ? " 

"Yes, dear; your friends drink so much at dinner. I used 
to put out three bottles for a small party, but Moisef told 
me he was obliged quite to stint people, and pretend not to see 
when they looked at him to have their glasses filled ; so now I 
put out five or six, and there is never any left." 

" I daresay Moiser has a liking for moselle," answers Herman, 
carelessly. Sitting drowsily by the fire in that snug little study 
of his, he has just hit upon a happy idea for the third volume of 
his novel ; and a man who has a happy idea cannot be expected to 
throw Ids thoughts out of gear for the sake of an odd bottle of wine. 

192 Hostages to Fortune. 

And thus domestic life glides on, pleasantly if ruinously. 
Are not most of the roads to ruin pleasant ? Editha is so happy 
in seeing Herman pleased with his dinner and satisfied with his 
breakfast, that she commits herself almost unquestioningly to 
Ann Files the cook ; whereby the family in that adjacent lane 
rejoice greatly, and sundiy visiting acquaintance of Mrs. Files, 
and of Mary Ann the parlourmaid, and Selina the housemaid, 
have a good time in Mr. Westray's kitchen. 

" If one can't have one's young man to supper once in a way, 
one might as well live in the Black Hole at Jamaica," remarks 
Selina to Mrs. Files. 

" I've always been one to stand by my family," says Mrs. Files, 
after despatching half a sirloin to her kindred in the lane, " and 
when I'm out of place I've always a home to go to, and no call to 
hurry myself about getting a sitiwation till I can suit myself to 
my own satisfaction." 

The victoria is chosen, and the prettiest pair of horses the 
Westminster-road can produce are bought to draw it, after much 
deliberation and consultation, and several exhibitions of their 
performances before a select party of friends. Herman thinks 
he has done rather a clever thing in going to the Westminster- 
road for his cattle, instead of giving the West-end prices for the 
same. A victoria will not serve to convey Mrs. Westray to dinner 
parties or theatres, so a miniature brougham has to be added. 
Horses, carriages, harness, livery, and those etceteras in the way 
of dandy brashes, carriage ladder, boot-top paste, leathers, and 
sponges, which are more alarming to the minds of the uninitiated 
than the larger items, make a hole in one of Hermari's loose 
thousands ; so large a hole, in fact, that very little of that par- 
ticular thousand remains after all is paid. 

As a set-off for this vanished thousand he has the satisfaction 
of seeing his wife in a properly-appointed carriage as befits the 
wife of a popular writer ; and Editha has the delight of calling 
for her husband at his club three or four times a week, and 
driving round the Park with him on their way home. Hyde Park 
has a flatfish, dullish look to this daughter of mountain and flood, 
but to drive with Herman is not the less Elysium. The heart 
creates its own landscape, and true love can be happy in a garret, 
or within the gray walls of a debtor's prison. 

So the days go on— drear November — chill December — Christ- 
mas at Lochwithian, where there is gladness and love inexhaus- 
tible for the young wife — frosty January — biting February- 
blusterous March — sweet, vernal April. The trees bourgeon and 
blossom in gardens and Park, the labourer leaves his fireside, the 
keels of the pleasure boats glide down the bright blue river, and 

Hostages to Fortune. 193 

one can fancy that the nymphs and graces dance lightly in the 
violet-perfumed woodland under the clear spring moon. Herman 
and Editha have been wedded more than six months, and feel 
quite old married people. Indeed, to judge by the amount of 
crockery that has been broken, and the way the edges of the 
table-knives are notched and turned, they might have been 
married six years. 

Not yet has Ruth come to visit her married sister, anxious as 
Editha is for that happiness. The winter has been somewhat 
severe, and has tried Miss Morcombe sorely. She is not so strong 
this year as she was last, and Dr. Price advises against any extra 
exertion just at present. In the summer, perhaps, she may be 
equal to the journey from Lochwithian to London. 

The Squire runs up to town in April, and spends a week with 
his daughter and son-in-law, and highly approves of their snug 
little establishment. 

" Hope you're not going too fast, Westray," he remarks sagely. 
" Mustn't look upon your literary earnings as certain income, you 
know. Fashions change — new lights appear. That's how Gold- ' 
smith and Sheridan and Scott, and such fellows, always contrived 
to outrun the constable." 

" If Sheridan's wife had been as prudent as Editha, he would 
never have come to grief," replies Herman. " She won't even 
order a gown from a French dressmaker, for fear she should 
ruin me," 

More than once Editha has suggested that Herman's sisters 
ought to be invited to the villa. 

" It would be a pleasant change for them, dear, I should think," 
she says. 

" Perhaps it might, love ; but it wouldn't be a pleasant change 
for me," returns Herman frankly. "The fact is, I've outgrown 
my sisters. They were always older than I, and the progress of 
years has aged them more than it has aged me ; so that the gulf 
between us widens. In plain words, they have grown a trifle 
priggish ; take me to task about my books ; wish that there was 
a higher purpose underlying my stories ; tell me what Mr. Sym- 
coks, the curate, thinks upon the subject of my latest fiction ; 
regret that I should waste my mental powers upon the compo- 
sition of worthless, evanescent plays ; and make themselves 
altogether disagreeable. No, love, we are too happy in our union 
to admit any jarring element. We'll send the poor old girls as 
many presents as you like — music, books, hair-pads, ribbons, silk 
gowns — but we'll maintain an equable two hundred miles between 
them and ourselves." 

" Isn't that unkind, Herman ? " 

194 Hostages to Fortune, 

" I daresay it is, dear, but it's wise. The goddess of wisdom 
never was remarkable for her amiability ; but she knew a thing 
or two. Devonshire is the place for my aged sisters. I'd as soon 
invite the three old ladies with the sewing machinery — I mean 
to say the spindle and shears institution — as those amiable 

The cheerful and congratulatory period of the new year has 
brought in Messrs. Molding and Korness's account for the fur- 
nishing of the domestic nest ; an account which in bulk and 
neatness of caligraphy looks like a lawyer's brief, and the sum- 
total of which takes Herman's breath for a moment or so, like a 
header into a December flood. He had no idea that taste was so 
expensive an item in upholstery. That artistic simplicity, that 
classic chastity which distinguish Bridge-end House are as costly 
as any splendour of gilding and crimson brocade which a retired 
citizen could have chosen for the adornment of his brand-new 
mansion at Canonbury or Hoxton. Every one of those small 
devices, which seemed to Herman so clever and inexpensive, 
figures in Messrs. M. and K.'s account as an important item. 
Not an inch of ebonised beading, not a bracket or a curtain-loop, 
but is separately entered. 

Herman puzzles over the pages of that account as if it were an 
essay of Herder's, but he cannot question the precision and 
honesty of a bill which so rigidly sets out its smallest item, so 
carefully describes and identifies every object charged for. 

He folds up the document with a sigh. The payment of 
Messrs. Molding and Korness will make a clean sweep of that 
little capital of which the successful author boasted to Squire 
Morcombe when he asked for Editha's hand. It will leave Her- 
man shoulder to shoulder with Fortune once again, instead of 
being a few thousands in advance of necessity. He has been 
prospering since his marriage. Kismet has brought him a great 
deal of money in a very short time; his novel has been eminently 
successful, and he is well on with another comedy and another 
fiction. Henceforth he will be able to afford himself briefest 
repose from his labours, for, in the words of the greatest of 
English philosophers, he has given hostages to Fortune. Yet he 
sees in the wife he loves no "impediment to great enterprises," 
as Lord Bacon calls this tender tie, but rather an incentive to 
ambition. Before summer has faded from the land he hopes to 
be a father ; sacred name, which thrills him with a strange, sweet 
pride and gladness ; holiest of all names given to man, since it 
is the name man gives his God. 

Happy beyond all measure is'that spring-time of their wedded 
life, despite the dissipation of Herman's little capital and the 

juostages to Jb'ortunc. 195 

necessity for unremitting work. The young husband devotes all 
his leisure to his wife. He buys a boat, and keeps it up the 
river at Teddington, whither they can drive on balmy April 
afternoons, dine at a little waterside inn, and row up to Hampton 
or Halliford after dinner, driving home late in the moonlight. 
Editha is never so happy as when they are quite alone together ; 
and as the spring ripens to summer, the little dinners, at which 
Mr. Tollemy and other literary lights are entertained, cease for 
the most part, and Herman and his wife spend their evenings in 
the garden, he smoking and dreaming, with an occasional lapse 
into conversation, she reading to him sometimes — she reads beau- 
tifully, and it is one of her delights to administer to his pleasure 
in this way — or working with dexterous fingers at miniature gar- 
ments of cambric or lawn, which look as if they were intended 
for that fairy page about whose small person Titania and Oberon 

The young wife, worshipping her husband as only a single- 
minded, unselfish woman can worship the imperfect clay to which 
destiny has mated her, has yet contrived to hold firmly by cer- 
tain simple rules of her maiden life. She attends all those ser- 
vices of her church which she has been wont to attend, and not 
even Herman's convenience or inclination, paramount over all 
lesser things, is allowed to interfere with her performance of this 
duty. She contrives to do some good in her immediate neigh- 
bourhood — visits the dirty cottages in the dirty lanes ; sends 
small gifts of broths and groceries to the sick and aged ; 
strengthens the feeble knees with help material and spiritual ; 
and earns the gratitude of the vicar of her district, whose highest 
pride it is to call himself a parish priest, and who is never 
weary of labouring for the welfare of his flock. And these 
suburban parishes are not easy to manage. They have all the 
vices of town, and all the ignorance of the country. There are 
old men and women in those lanes who have never been to 
London — marvellous as the fact may appear that people can re- 
main supine and incurious with the mightiest metropolis in the 
world at their elbow — yet the vices of London have come down 
to them : the artifice, the shiftiness, the plausibleness, the in- 
temperance and greed of the metropolitan pauper, are to be 
found among these incurious Fulhamites, who, having " never 
had no call to go to London," have not troubled themselves to 
make the journey. 

Dewrance dines now and then with Mr. and Mrs. Westray, and 
is surprised and honestly glad to see them so happy. 

Summer comes, and in the late summer the fruition of Her- 
man's hopes. A baby M>n is put into his inexperienced arms iu 

196 Hostages to Fortune. 

the dim dawn of an August morning, after a night of watchful- 
ness and anxiety ; and he feels that he is verily pledged to the 
inscrutable goddess Fortune, and that his hand had need be busy 
and his brain prolific, for the sake of wife and child. 

In reality, the wife and child would be but a light burden 
upon his industry, if he had not cook and housemaids, nurse- 
maid, coachman and horses, wear and tear of stable utensils, 
breakage of pudding-basins and other kitchen sundries, grease- 
pot, servants' relations and followers, to provide for as well. 


" Side by side thus we whisper ; ' Who loves, loves for ever,' 
As wave upon wave to the sea runs the river, 
And the oar on the smoothness drops noiseless and steady, 
Till we start with a sigh, 
Was it she — was it I — 
Who first turn'd to look back on the way we had made ? 
Who first saw the soft tints of the garden-land fade? 
Who first sigh'd, ' See, the rose-hue is fading already ' ' " 

Eight months more of Herman Westray's wedded life have 
come and gone since that August morning. The London season 
is at its height ; the Frivolity is crowded nightly ; Mrs. Brand- 
reth is more popular than ever, delighting the town in a comedy 
which is not Herman's. His last effort, produced in the late 
autumn after his son's birth, has been that gentle failure which 
kindly critics call a succes d'estime. One of hia rivals has fol- 
lowed with a clever adaptation from the German — domestic, 
tender, simple, almost arcadian — and the pretty fancy has taken 
the town, much to Herman's disgust. The chefs-oVceuvre which 
secure success for our rivals seem to us such flimsy things. We 
could have done them ourselves easily, if the central idea had 
but happened to strike us. 

Piqued and disappointed at this humiliating turn in affairs, he 
is working savagely at a new play, in the progress of which 
Myra is warmly interested ; so much so, that he spends most of 
his leisure afternoons just now in the elegant little drawing-room 
of one of the small old houses in Kensington Gore, to which 
Mrs. Brandreth has removed from sober Bloomsbury. The suc- 
cess of the Frivolity, now firmly established as a popular and 

Hostages to Fortune. l'J7 

fashionable theatre, amply justifies some expansion in the lessee's 
surroundings ; and Mrs. Brandrcth's victoria is the prettiest to 
be seen in the Park ; and Mrs. Brandreth's small Sunday dinners 
are as perfect in their simple, unpretentious fashion as dinners 
can be. She does not astonish her guests with peaches before 
strawberries have fairly come in ; but her wines are exquisite, 
her menu has always some touch of novelty, and she never 
fatigues her friends by too elaborate a banquet. 

Her house is altogether one of the pleasantest in London. She 
knows only clever people, and eschews the Philistine element. 
The mercantile and ponderous classes are unrepresented at that 
cos)- round table, where art and literature meet in the freedom 
of a friendly Bohemianism, which never degenerates into vulgarity 
or recklessness of speech. Mrs. Brandreth is about the last 
woman whom any man possessed of the least savoir /aire would 
bo likely to offend by lack of due reverence for her sex. The 
very fact that she stands quite alone in the world, and is known 
to have been superior to any temptations which Lord Earlswood's 
wealth could offer, gives her an additional claim upon the respect 
of her circle. She is not fast, or loud, or insolent. There is an 
easy grace about her manner, with a touch of languor when she 
is not warmly interested in the topic of the moment — a languor 
which some people mistake for pride. 

She has altered her mode of life considerably since Herman's 
marriage ; it may be her steadily increasing success, or it may be 
some change in her own nature. She is fonder of society than 
of old, reads less, is less alone. She takes more pains to culti- 
vate acquaintance likely to assist her professional advancement ; 
goes more into the world ; seizes and occupies a more important 
position in society ; works her hardest to be grande dame as well 
as popular actress. 

Herman sees the difference, and wonders at it, almost with 
envy. He has spent his small fortune, and has not found it 
possible yet awhile to replace those few thousands which melted 
so easily in his first year of wedded bliss. Myra is growing rich. 
She has invested her surplus judiciously, under the direction of 
Hamilton Lyndhurst, who guarantees a safe six per cent, upon 
all such investments. It seems to Herman that in the race of 
life his old playfellow is getting ahead of him. Her fame is 
perhaps greater than his, although a trifle less enduring ; for 
however worthless the next generation may account his books, 
the books will exist in some form, if only to be despised, and 
afford some record of himself ; while the actress's renown can 
be no more than a tradition. 

For Editha this second year of wedded life is not quite so 

193 Hostages to Fortune. 

happy as the first. True that she has her boy for the tender care 
and delight of her days, — a dawning intelligence which expresses 
itself as yet only in half -articulate babblings or monosyllabic utter- 
ances which the young mother puzzles out as earnestly as if they 
were fragments of an inscription on the crumbling wall of a temple 
dug out of the banks of the Euphrates. To amuse him in his 
waking hours, to watch him when he sleeps, to' nurse him in his 
small ailments, to take him for airings in the victoria, form the 
new joys of her existence ; but even this happiness cannot make 
up for the loss of Herman's society, and of him she sees much 
less this year than last. 

The spring is well advanced, and they have had but one boat- 
ing excursion, and even that one was not unalloyed bliss, for 
Herman was self-absorbed and inclined to be irritable, taking 
objection to the east wind, the cockney oarsmen who menaced 
the safety of his boat, and the lukewarm condition of the stewed 
eels at the hotel where they dined. 

He works harder than last year, and with less pleasure in his 
labour. He is nervous and excitable, and there are times when 
Eilitha's quiet presence in his study seems to worry and disturb 
him. Her watchfulness has discovered that he writes less 
fluently of late ; that he throws himself oftener back in his chair 
to meditate ; bites the end of his pen moodily for ten minutes 
at a time ; runs his pen across a page of copy with a vexed, 
impatient air ; in a word, finds it difficult to please that most 
indulgent of all critics, himself. 

The flying pen which has been wont to travel over the paper 
with electric swiftness, driven by thoughts too rapid for mortal 
hand to keep pace with, now drags along heavily, with only 
spasmodic spurts now and then to relieve its sluggishness. 
Editha makes up her mind that Herman is over-worked, and tells 
him so, earnestly imploring him to give himself rest, to pause in 
the composition of his novel, to postpone the production of his 
play. The suggestion is to the last degree unwelcome to him. 
His vanity is quick to take offence. 

" You've been influenced by the twaddle in that last review 
in the Censor. I believe they keep those articles standing, and 
only alter the names of the books and authors, and shift the 
positions of the paragraphs to make them look fresh. You think 
I have written mj^self out ? " he says irritably. " Then I sup- 
pose that last chapter I read you seemed flat and dull ; had a 
faded air, eh ? " 

" Not in the least, Herman ; it was lovely, but I am sure you want 
rest, for all that. You write so much more slowly than you used." 

" Perhaps I write a good deal more carefully." 

Hostages to Fortune. 199 

" Ah, to be sure ; I never thought of that. To my mind you 
have always written so well that I cannot imagine more care 
being needed. But 1 daresay your next novel will be better than 
anything you have written yet." 

" I hope it may," says Herman, moodily, thinking of his empty 
coffers, and that some of the Christmas accounts — wine-merchant, 
corn-merchant, Fortnum and Mason — are still outstanding ; and 
that he has been respectfully solicited more than once to send a 
cheque. The next stage after respectful solicitation is a lawyer's 

That play which progresses so slowly — some alteration or 
amendment being suggested by Mrs. Brandreth at each reading 
■ — is a thorn in Editha's side. Herman is now rarely at home on 
Sunday evening. Editha ventures a faint remonstrance one day. 

" Our Sunday evenings used to be so happy last year," she 
says. " You went to church with me very often, and we used 
to have such pleasant walks afterwards up the hill to Wimbledon 
Common in the starlight." 

"Arcadian and delicious, dear. We'll have just such walks 
again when my play is finished ; but for the moment business is 
paramount with me. I must make a success at the Frivolity 
before the season is over. But if you don't like my leaving you, 
why don't you come to Kensington Gore with me on a Sunday ? 
Mrs. Brandreth is perpetually asking me why you won't come." 

" You know how much I dislike Sunday visiting, Herman." 

''In that case you must not object if we sometimes spend Sun- 
day evening apart." 

" Sometimes, Herman ! " 

" Sunday is Mrs. Brandreth's only disengaged evening, you 
know," adds Herman, ignoring the somewhat reproachful excla- 

" Herman, don't you think it is a sin to devote Sunday evening 
to secular business '? It seems to me that no blessing can attend 
any work which involves the desecration of the Sabbath." 

" My dearest, we don't look at things from quite the same point 
of view." 

" Indeed, Herman ! I fancied we both thought alike upon 
gTeat subjects, even if we have different ways of acting in matters 
of detail." 

Long as they have been married, all-confiding as they have 
been to each other, Herman has contrived to keep his religious 
opinions very much to himself. Editha has thought him lax, but 
she has never supposed him an unbeliever in that creed which is 
to her the very foundation of her life. He knows this, and f eela 
that they are treading upon dangerous ground. 

200 Hostages to Fortune. 

" My dear, the amount of business that I get through at one 
of Mrs. Brandreth's Sunday evenings is so small that it need 
scarcely trouble you." 

" And yet you cannot spare me one oi those evenings ? " 
, " Well, you see, there is always something. I talk over what 
I have written with Mrs. Brandreth, and hear her opinion. She 
has a happy knack of hitting upon ideas as to situation and stage 
effect. No outsider can have any idea how the success of a play 
hinges on these details. Some jokelet which seems utterly inane 
when one sees it in black and white will set the gallery in a roar, 
and keep the house in good-humour for a whole evening. And 
then I meet useful people at her house — critics, newspaper-men, 
fellows who can give me a lift now and then. You see, as you 
don't like me to invite them here on a Sunday, it's an advantage 
for me to meet them at Myra's." 

Editha looks up suddenly, startled by that familiar mention of 
the actress, and Herman reddens. 

" I beg Mrs. Brandreth's pardon for speaking of her by her 
Christian name," he says. " I hear her old friends call her Myra. 
Curious name, isn't it ? " he adds carelessly ; " Myra — not by any 
means a pretty one." 

" Yes, it is curious," Editha murmurs thoughtfully. 

That utterance of another woman's Christian name has given 
her quite a shock. Bidiculous, of course, that she should be so 
weak-minded. She is ashamed of her own folly. 

" I hope I have not a jealous nature," she says to herself, won- 
dering at that sudden pang which shot through her heart for so 
slight a cause. 

But after this she takes a dislike to the Frivolity Theatre and 
all its associations. She is troubled by Herman's attendance at 
Mrs. Brandreth's Sunday receptions ; he dines in Kensington 
Core on many Sundays, and she eats her dinner alone, or counter- 
mands the dinner altogether, as a superfluous ceremony, and takes 
a cup of tea and an egg before going to church. Lenten Sun- 
days these, in every sense. The preacher moralises upon the 
vanity of human wishes, the brevity of earthly happiness, and 
she feels that of all the congregation his words come home to 
her heart most keenly. After church she goes up into her baby's 
nursery, and sits with him while the nursemaid has her evening 
out ; sits beside the dainty little brazen cot, chintz-curtained and 
befringed, which Messrs. Molding and Korness have supplied 
for the heir of all the ages and nothing particular besides ; sits 
reading the Imitation of Christ or Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living 
— that wondrous mixture of spiritual truth and shrewdest worldly 
wisdom ; sits for hours reading her good books by the little one's 

Hostages to Fortune. 201 

pillow, and only pauses once in a way to wonder how Herman is 
amusing himself at Kensington Gove. 

" (Jould she take a bird's-eye view of Mrs. Brandreth's drawing- 
rooms, how that gentle heart would be wounded ! The front 
room — by no means large, and a little overcrowded with thocc 
various elegant trifles, Sevres flower-stands, brass-mounted stereo- 
scopes, majolica card-trays supported by chubby Cupids, which 
enthusiastic admirers have offered as respectful tribute to the 
popular actress — contains as many people as can find standing 
room. There is a buzz of conversation, which effectually drowns 
the classic performance of a German composer at the small 
marqucterie cottage-piano ; but what can people expect if they 
will play Chopin-and-water with ifoe soft pedal down at a 
fashionable At Home? The critics are assembled in full force, 
revelling in the discussion of various late fiascos in literature and 
art, or according loud and enthusiastic praise to the last delight 
of the critical mind, some literary weakling, self-conscious as 
Narcissus, whom the critics adore as an intellectual Hercules. 

The inner drawing-room is too small for anything but an 
oratory or a shrine, and here, in the lowest and most graceful of 
Louis-Quinze chairs, in a half-reclining attitude, languid, re- 
poseful, picturesque, sits Myra Brandreth, dressed in her favourite 
black velvet and rose point — the one costume which becomes her 
to perfection, and which she is too wise to lay aside for the 
arbitrary varieties of fashion. The square-cut bodice reveals 
the graceful throat ; the century-old lace veils the fair neck, and 
gives a Madonna-like purity to the dress. Small diamond ear- 
drops and a yellow rosebud fastened in the bosom of her dress 
are Myra's only ornaments. Her large black fan is painted 
with pale yellow roses, and dangles from her wrist by a pale 
yellow ribbon. 

" How fond you are of yellow ! " says Herman, who alone with 
the priestess occupies this luxurious sanctuary, half hidden from 
the occupants of the adjoining room by the deeply-drooping 
amber curtains, and just large enough to contain a jardiniere, a 
coffee-table, and three easy-chairs. 

" Yes, I like the colour ; perhaps because it is not a general 

" The colour of jealousy, of amaranth and asphodel, the chosen 
flowers of death." 

He i3 leaning over her chair playing with her fan, furling and 
unfurling it perpetually for his own amusement. If gentle- 
men never so amused themselves, fans would be everlasting wear. 

" Death and I are very good friends," replies Myra, with a 
Bigh. ■' I have so little to live for." 

202 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Why, I thought you had eveiything in the world that can 
make life worth living — fame, success, money, a profession you 

"Yes, I am very fond of acting. That and music are tho 
only arts which take one out of oneself." 

"In your case I should have fancied self so agreeable a sub- 
ject that you would hardly care to be carried away from it. I shouU 
have supposed you had not a care or a sorrow." 

" Herman ! " she exclaims, turning her dark hazel eyes upon 
him slowly ; they are at their softest to-night, with a veiled look 
which is almost like tears. "You ought to know me better than that.' 

He remembers another Sunday evening long ago, and a certain 
question of Myra's, together with the reply he made thereto ; 
remembers with a faint sigh. Would it not have been more 
generous, would it not have been wiser, to accept what was then 
offered him ? Infinitely wiser than to be hankering after it now, 
assuredly ; but this reply an unobtrusive conscience does not 
suggest to Mr. Westray. 

Would it not have been wiser to have returned to his old love 
two years ago, to have accepted the gem that was offered to him — 
not quite a flawless gem, it is true, but with a wonderful sparkle 
about it ? These Sunday evenings at Kensington Gore are so 
pleasant ; Myra's little dinners so much more recherches and 
various than the little dinners at home, which are apt to repeat 
themselves. And life is made up of small pleasures ; it is an 
infinite series of nothings. High principles and noble thoughts 
are like Alpine peaks, very grand and very beautiful to con- 
template from a distance ; but easy manners and exquisite taste 
in details are the castors on which the armchair of life runs easily 
over the carpet of the world. 

Myra and Herman talk of old times now and then — talk of the 
dead-and-gone fathers whom they both loved ; and are drawn 
very near to each other by these tender memories. 

" Have you' been to Colehaven within the last few years?" 
Myra asks. 

" Not since my mother's death. I used to run down pretty 
often in her time." 

" I have not been there since my father died and Mrs. Pompion 
came to fetch me away," says Myra. " It is not for want of love, 
but for want of courage, that I have never been to see my father's 

And then somehow Myra tells the story of her marriage, in 
her own highly-picturesque representation of which event she 
appears as the victim of Mrs. Pompion's worldliness — not to say 

Hostages to Fortune. 203 

" She made me understand that I was homeless and penniless, 
and that I should be doing her a wrong by prolonging my depen- 
dence upon her an hour longer than I was obliged." 

" You might have found independence with me, Myra," is the 
reproachful suggestion. 

" Yes, and blighted your career at the veiy outset," replies 
Myra, who remembers perfectly well that at this stage of Her- 
man's life his sole means were represented by a scholarship and 
501. a year from his father. 

" Poor Charley ! " she sighs; " I never loved him, but he was 
very good to inc." 

Lord Earlswood cuts short these somewhat sentimental con- 
versations now and then by precipitating himself through the 
curtained archway, and planting himself upon the one available 
chair. Having very little to say for himself when so planted, 
he seems slightly in the way. He is painfully jealous of Her- 
man, yet has no ground for complaint, having, in fact, no status. 
Society in general in the Kensington Gore drawing-rooms is aware 
of his lordship's jealousy, and of Mrs. Brandreth's sentimental 
affection for the author ; and " poor Lady Earlswood " and " poor 
Mrs. Westray " receive a due amount of somewhat scornful pity. 


■' Aussi se permit-elle alors de proteger de petits jetrass gens ravissants, 

deB artistes, dea gens de lettres nouveau-nea a la gloire, qui niaient les 

anciena et lea modernes, et tachaient de se faire una grande reputation 
en faiaant pea de chose." 

Herman's novel brings him some hundreds, and enables him to 
pay wine-merchant and corn-merchant and reestablish his balance 
at his banker's ; but not to save a sixpence. He has acquired 
extravagant habits, lives among extravagant people, ana has 
that noble recklessness about trifling expenditure which seems 
the distinguishing characteristic of a superior mind, and which 
brings so many superior minds to the workhouse. The unheeded 
pence run away with their big brothers the pounds, and Her- 
man's menus plaisirs are almost as costly as Ann Files's hungry 
relatives. His cigars are the choicest that money can buy, and 
he has always a liberal supply at the service of his friends. He 
never touches cards, and boasts of that negative virtue as an 

204 Hostages to Fortune. 

example of the prudence which befits a family man ; but he 
spends a good deal of money upon hansom cabs, and a good 
deal more upon bric-a-brac, indulging his artistic taste to the 
uttermost when he sees anything worth carrying home to the 
nest at Fulham. Sometimes he takes Myra a Vienna cup and 
saucer, rich in costliest gilding, or a Charles Theodore dejeuner ; 
for is he not under considerable obligation to that lady for his 
dramatic successes ? 

These small gifts are the pabulum of friendship. Does not 
sage Cecil counsel his son to give many gifts, but small ones, to 
his patron, if he would be constantly remembered ? 

The balance at Herman's banker's diminishes with alarming 
rapidity, and he is just beginning to contemplate a serious 
reformation in his habits ; indeed, on one of those happy even- 
ings when he seems to return to his old self, he goes so far as 
to announce this virtuous intention to his wife. Never before 
has he spoken to her of money matters, but has allowed her to 
suppose that his resources are in a manner inexhaustible. 

" I'll tell you what it is, Editha ; I mean to turn over a new 
leaf," he says, as she sits opposite to him in the little study by 
the cheerful evening fire. The April sunset reddens the sky above 
the flat fields of Fulham, the gray twilight creeps over asparagus- 
beds and cabbage-gardens, the baby lies in his mother's lap 
chuckling and crowing at the fire, and lifting up his small 
mufflered feet to be played with by his admiring parents. Quite 
a domestic picture, and curiously contrastive to last Sunday 
evening in Kensington Gore. 

" In what way, dearest ? " asks the fond wife. " Not to work 
so hard, I hope." 

" Quite the contrary, dear. To work harder than ever, and to 
turn miser. ] can't be too careful or too anxious about the future 
now I've this little one to think about, to say nothing of the 
procession of brothers and sisters who will naturally follow his 
footsteps. I shall leave off cigars henceforth." 

" Herman, you are so fond of your cigar 1 " 

" A pipe is ever so much better." 

" You can't smoke a pipe at your club, dear." 

" Then I shall spend so much the less time at my club." 

" And so much more at home ! Ah, Herman, I shall be grate- 
ful to your pipe if it brings about that result ! " 

" And then there's the money I waste in hansom cabs ; quite 
a little fortune for Master Squaretoes here, if it were to accumu- 
late at compound interest. I shall give up cabs and take to 
walking. Nothing so bad for a man's heart as the perpetual 
friction of locomotion in which he is only a passive agent." 

Hostages to Fortune. 205 

Virtuous resolves, so pleasant a subject for conversation by 
the evening' fire, inspired by the companionship of wife and 
child ; but the next time Herman is in a hurry to get to Kensing- 
ton Gore he hails the smartest hansom on the stand, and gives 
the man double fare for driving him at the rate of twelve 
miles an hour. 

Early in May the new piece is produced to a brilliant audience, 
and is a positive success. With this stroke of fortune all Her- 
man's good resolutions melt away. He has but to write to bo 
rich. There is a bottomless gold mine in his ink-pot. He thinks 
of Sir Walter Scott, who, at nearly sixty years of age, in a brief 
span of herculean labour, earned by his pen the almost incredible 
sum of 100,000/. ; and he believes that for him, too, literature 
will be an ever-flourishing pagoda-tree, whose golden fruit he 
can pluck to the end of his days. 

He is intoxicated by the enthusiastic reception of his new play, 
coming after that odious succes cFestime, and his gratitude to 
Myra for her invaluable suggestions and her admirable acting is 
boundless. He buys a sapphire locket out of the first proceeds 
of the drama — antique, classical, expensive — and with his own 
hands hangs it upon Mrs. Brandreth's fair throat. He takes home 
a snowy-plumed hat for baby the day after, and Editha's eyes 
fill with tears at the thought that he should have considered the 
little one. 

" And now that the play is produced, dearest, we shall have 
our old Sunday evenings again, I hope," Editha says gently. 

"Yes, love, I can give you some of my Sundays now. But I 
am going to put anew comedy on the stocks directly, and I shall 
want to consult Mrs. Brandreth now and then. She has such a 
masterly knowledge of dramatic effect." 

" How I envy her the delight of assisting you ! It seems as if 
she were almost a partner in your work." 

" Not quite, dear," answers Herman, with a supercilious smile ; 
" but her advice is useful upon all technical points. And then 
her house is one of the pleasantest I know. One meets such 
nice people there." 

" If you could only bring the same people here, Herman ! " 
says Editha, with a sigh. She would do anything except sacrifice 
principle to have her full share in her husband's life, and she 
feels -with a pang that it is slipping away from her somehow. 
Jealous of Mrs. Brandreth in the vulgar sense of the word she 
is not, for her mind is too pure to imagine evil. But she envies 
Myra those gifts which render her society valuable and her house 
charming to Herman. 

'' Not so easy, my love. We are farther from town — objection 

203 Hostages to Fortune. 

number one. The people who go to Mrs. Brandreth's will drive 
a mile and a half, but don't care about driving three miles. 
Then you set your face against Sunday receptions — objection 
number two. The people I meet at Mrs. Brandreth's like Sunday 

" Could we not have an evening once a week, on which your 
friends could come to you in an unceremonious way, Herman ? " 
suggests Editha timidly. " Dinner-parties are so expensive, and 
we have quite enough of them already. But perhaps if theso 
people you like so much knew that you were at home on a 
particular evening, they would come to us." 

_ " I thought you were too much wrapped up in baby for that 
kind of thing ; we've been degenerating into domesticity since that 
young gentleman's arrival. However, perhaps it's not a bad 
idea. I'll get you some cards printed, and we'll have our weekly 
reception — say Tuesday evening ; music and conversation, tea 
and coffee, light wines, sandwiches. Dr. Johnson says that no 
man, however intellectual, likes to leave a house exactly in the 
same condition he entered it. Human nature requires some sus- 
taining element, if only sherry and sandwiches." 

Editha is delighted, for this arrangement will, give her at least 
one evening in the week on which she will be sure of her hus- 
' band's society. 

Mrs. Westray's Tuesday evenings, in a certain unpretentious 
way, are a success. Kensington and Chelsea are rich in artists 
and literary men, and these are Herman's favourite companions. 
The distance is easy between Fulham and these abodes of art and 
letters ; painters, playwrights, poets, and their natural enemies 
and boon companions the critics, rattle down to Bridge-end House 
in hansoms, and walk home in a merry band by moonlight or 
starlight, sometimes ever so long after midnight has struck from 
the two grave old churches whose towers stand dark and square 
against the sky, like twin warders of the river. 

Very merry are these evenings, very full of mirth and wit, 
nights to be remembered — verily " society ; " curiously different 
from the stately interchange of civilities among the little-great 
of suburb or country town, who disseminate dulness at measured 
intervals, and call it " visiting." 

The buffet in the little Pompeian dining-room is always liber- 
ally furnished. Herman's den serves as a smoking-room, and is 
sometimes crowded to suffocation with noisy disputants, who 
can talk louder here than in Mrs. Westray's drawing-room, where 
the wives are comparing notes about babies with Editha, and 
repeating the last mot from the nursery. Some of the wives and 
sisters are musical, and there are songs and sonatas and an occa- 

Hostages to Fortune. 207 

eional glee — " See our oars with feathered spray," or " From 
Oberon in fairyland " — to diversify the evening's entertainment. 
Curious-looking foreigners, whom Herman picks up at his club, 
come down occasionally, and draw strange and subtle harmonies 
from the Broadwood miniature grand. But conversation is the 
great feature of the assembly. That never flags. Samuel John- 
son and his chosen circle never discussed a wider range of 
topics, never soared to the immensities or descended to the 
trivialities, with bolder wing than Mr. Westray and his friends. 
Barkly Tollemy often exhibits his tall figure and wise gray head 
among the younger guests, and discusses the various problems 
of a phenomenal universe with Herman, or gives utterance to 
the most scathing criticisms with an unctuous humour that makes 
the sharpest words seem sweet as honey. Editha has left off 
listening to the metaphysical arguments. She is happy in having 
Herman near her, in seeing him pleased and amused, and in 
knowing that at least for this one night in the week his own 
house is as attractive to him as Mrs. Brandreth's. True there are 
people who go to the popular actress who never come here — 
distinguished members of the patrician order, who think it a 
favour to be presented to the popular manageress of the Frivolity ; 
famous doctors, famous lawyers, who like to relax the tension of 
the bow in Myra's pretty drawing-room, and to have their last 
pet anecdote laughed at by the favourite actress ; while Herman, 
being only an author, is but little sought by the great. But he 
has the society he likes best, and is satisfied. 

The Bordeaux and light German wines, the chicken and 
anchovy sandwiches, the effervescing waters and old cognac, the 
tea and coffee and pound cakes and Presburg biscuits, consumed 
at these weekly reunions cost something; but Editha is too 
pleased with Herman's pleasure to count the cost, and so life 
glides on calmly, almost happily, for the young wife, despite 
those melancholy Sunday evenings when her husband is planning 
a new play at Kensington Gore. 

Among the most constant guests at Mrs. Westray's Tuesdays 
is Hamilton Lyndhurst. He is such a near neighbour, as he tells 
Editha, and it is easy for him to drop in. Indeed, he has not 
waited for the institution of these weekly receptions to become a 
frequent dropper-in. He has spent many an evening in the little 
Dutch drawing-room — with its green-damask walls and old delft 
jars and quaint tulipwood cabinets — furnished after a Dutch 

He has contrived somehow to make himself a friend of the 
family, to subordinate all those characteristics which Herman 
observed in him at the beginning of their acquaintance, and to 

208 Hostages to Fortune. 

get himself, in a manner, rehabilitated in his friend's esteem. 
Before his marriage Herman had made up his mind that Lynd- 
hurst was one of those desirable bachelor acquaintances who 
ought to be buried in the grave of a man's bachelorhood ; but 
since his marriage he has come to think that Lyndhurst is a very 
good fellow after all, with rather too much audacity in express- 
ing his opinions among men, perhaps, but a man of kindly 
feeling and genuine good-nature, and with a perfect appreciation 
of good and pure-minded women. 

To Editha Mr. Lyndhurst has succeeded in making himself 
eminently agreeable. He has dropped-in when husband and wife 
have been alone together in Herman's study, and has contrived 
to fall into that small domestic circle without causing a break in 
its unity. He can talk well when he likes, he sings and plays 
exquisitely, and seems never so well pleased as when Mrs. West- 
ray asks him to go to the piano. That musical genius gives him 
an elevated air in Editha's mind ; she cannot imagine evil in a 
man who can interpret the great classic composers with such 
divine expression, and whose deep, pathetic voice rises in power 
and grandeur with the grandeur of his theme. 


" Aus dieser Erde quiUen meine Freuden, 

Une diese Sonne scheinet meinen Leiden j 
K ann ich mich erst von ibnen scheiden, 

Dann mag, was will und kann, geschehn." 

The Tuesdays have been established for nearly two months — 
the London season is over. It is Sunday, late in July, the July 
of 1870. The Franco-Prussian war has begun, and neutral Eng- 
land is breathless and excited to fever-point, watching that awful 
contest, and prophesying darkly as to its upshot. Editha is 
thinking rather sadly of an approaching visit to Lochwithian 
with her boy ; sadly because Herman pleads his literary work as 
a reason for staying in London, while she goes alone to exhibit 
her first-born to the fond and admiring eyes of his aunt and 

" But surely, dear Herman, you could write better at Loch- 
withian," she pleads, when first this bitter fact of his preferring 
to remain in town is made known to her ; " the pure air, the 
quiet — " 

Hostages to Fortune. 209 

" My dearest, pray sink that absurd notion about rustic tran- 
quillity. Dogs barking, cocks crowing, guns firing — your father 
coming in to propose a ride — Mr, Petherick bursting in upon us 
with the news of some startling event in the village — Betsy 
Jones has had a letter from her brother in America — or Polly 
Evans's little boy has set fire to his pinafore. And then there is 
the temptation which the smiling green hills, and the busy, 
babbling water-falls, and the glad blue sky, are always offering 
a man to go out of doors and be idle and happy. I never could 
stay long within four walls in the country." 

" But think what good rest and mountain-air would do your 
health, Herman," replies Editha anxiously. 

" My love, it is not a question of health, but of getting my 
book finished within a given time," he answers, somewhat im- 
patiently. " I can work nowhere so well as in this little room. 
Molding and Korness may have charged rather dear for their 
notions of comfort, but they have certainly succeeded in making 
me comfortable. This den is the dearest place in the world, and 
when you and the little one are here, a domestic Eden." 

The tender speech, coming upon her in the midst of her dis- 
appointment, moves Editha almost to tears. She takes up her 
husband's hand and kisses it. 

" Dear hand, which works so hard for baby and me ! " she 

Herman draws her to him with a sigh. 

" Dear love, I have worked hard enough, but perhaps I have 
not been quite so prudent as I ought to have been. I am not 
saving money, and a man who has given hostages to Fortune 
should have his modest share of the Three per Cents." 

" But you are not in difficulties, Herman ? " Editha inquires 

"No, dear, not in difficulties," he answers, with a faint gulp, 
as if conscience were swallowing a pill. "I am only a little 
anxious about your future and the little one's if — if anything 
were to happen to me ; like poor Mandeville for instance." 

Mandeville is a writer of promise who has perished untimely, 
leaving a wife and children, and not so much as a scuttle of coals 
or a bundle of firewood in his house. 

" Herman, don't talk of such a thing ! " cries Editha, pale with 
agony at the suggestion that her beloved is mortal. 

" No, dear, it is not a thing to talk about ; but it is a thing 
that a man can't help thinking about now and then, when he 
looks in the faces of his children and remembers how brief a 
journey it must be for them from his deathbed to the work- 

210 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Then we are living beyond our means, Herman ! " exclaims 
Editha. " Why did you not tell me this sooner ? I will do any- 
thing, dear— economise in any way you like — send away one of 
the servants, or two even — remove to a smaller house." 

" My dearest, I don't want to advertise to the world just yet 
"ihat I am a failure. This house suits us to a nicety. Your pre- 
sent cook seems a very decent person. All I have to do is to 
stick close to my work, and to go on being successful. I shall 
he afraid even to speak seriously to you, darling, if you take 
fright so quickly." 

" I am only distressed to think that you should have worked 
so hard, and that we should have squandered all your earnings 
upon servants and dinner-parties, carriages and horses. We 
can get rid of that last expense at any rate, Herman. You 
I ought the carriages and horses to please me. I can do without 
them very well indeed, dear — so you can sell them as soon as 
you like." 

" You don't know what you are talking about, love. A man 
may buy horses and carriages — some people even go so far as to 
consider that an improvident proceeding — but he can't sell them. 
That means throwing his money into the gutter." 

" But to get rid of the expense of keeping them, Herman ; 
that would be an advantage, even if you lost ever so much by 
selling them." 

" When ruin is staring us in the face we'll think of it, dear," 
answers Herman carelessly, but with a touch of weariness in 
tone and manner, like a man who feels himself overweighted in 
the universal handicap. 

It is not from lack of love for wife and child that Herman 
shrinks from accompanying them to Lochwithian. He has a 
sense of anxiety which makes him recoil from the idea of rural 
tranquillity and calm autumn days. He is overworked, and 
knows it ; yet is anxious to write faster than ever — to achieve 
some striking success, dramatic or literary, in order to be once 
more in advance of Fortune. He is glad to avoid the risk of 
friendly and confidential converse with the Squire, who might 
ask him searching questions about his affairs. A certain irrita- 
bility, which has been growing upon him of late, seems to find 
its best solace in the intellectual atmosphere of his club, or 
Myra's drawing-room, which is only an elegant reduction of 
club society ; the same men, the same subjects of conversation, 
the same tone of being ever so far in advance of the foremost 
rank of commonplace humanity. 

The thing which Herman Westray feels most keenly — perhaps 
the lurking cause of his fretfulness and discontent — is that in- 

Hostages to Fortune. 211 

vention begins to flag, or even to fail. The crowd of images, 
the wealth of. incident, the variety of subject, which used to 
throng the chambers of his mind, inhabit there no longer. He 
is obliged to resort to other men's invention for suggestions that 
may assist his wearied fancy, and with this view reads innumer- 
able French and German novels, in the majority of which he 
lind8 agreeable varieties of stories that have been told a hundred 
limes before, and in the residue no stories at all. Seldom now 
can he give himself up to the study of those great masters of 
style, whose imperishable works used to be the delight of his 
leisure. Actual leisure he has none, and his days of absolute 
weariness and exhaustion he employs in groping for some avail- 
able notion in the kennels of continental fiction — a novel which 
he can condense and crystallise into a drama, or a drama which 
he can develop and widen into a novel. This sense of the abso- 
lute need of incessant work is his excuse Lo himself for letting 
r.ditha pay her home visit alone. That pained and disappointed 
look of hers haunts him long after his announcement of this in- 
tention, but, though it grieves him sorely, it does not induce him 
to alter his plans. 

So Editha leaves the gray old church on this late summer 
evening more out of spirits than she has felt for a long time. All 
through the bright, busy London season, when her husband has 
spent so much of his time away from her, she has looked for- 
ward to the autumn visit to Lochwithian, consoling herself with 
that sweet home picture of the idle days they are to spend to- 
gether in the fair harvest month. She has spanned the gulf be- 
tween the dreary present and the happy future with hope's 
golden bridge, as the sea-king in the old German ballad bridged 
over the waters that severed him from his earth-born love. Thus 
the disappointment is more bitter even than disappointment is 
wont to be, and all through this evening's sermon, in the fading 
summer light, she has been taking a despondent view of life, and 
agreeing heartily with the preacher, who quotes the wise saying 
of Sir Thoinas Brown to the effect that this world is not an inn, 
but a hospital. 

Alone in the declining light she leaves the old church, and 
returns to the home which seems so empty without Herman. He 
13 dining at Mrs. Brandreth's, where he is to meet some new star 
i:i the literary heaven — an American poet, whose wild, strong 
verse has caught the English ear with its vigorous melody. She 
i .ig-ht have gone with him, she knows, had she so chosen, and can 
1 1 1 iref ore hardly consider his absence an unkindness. Yet she feels 
that the early sweetness of their wedded life is gone, and that 
t.e can scarcely be first in her husband thoughts when he holds 

£12 Hostages to Fortune. 

it too great a sacrifice to give up a Sunday dinner-party for her 
sake. She makes her sacrifice uncomplainingly for the sake of 
principle, for the faith in which she has been brought up, whose 
simple rules and ordinances seem puritanical to Herman's easy 
way of thinking. 

A gentleman is waiting at the little gate of Bridge-end House 

she approaches — a tall and large gentleman, with dark eyes, 
and a face which, although not so young as it has been, is still 
eminently handsome. 

" How do you do, Mr. Lyndhurst ? Have you been ringing ?" 
Editha asks, as she shakes hands with this evening visitor. 

" Two or three times," replies Lyndhurst carelessly ; " but 
your people seem afflicted with temporary deafness. I daresay 
they are watching the steamers. There's generally one aground 
for two or three hours on a Sunday evening hereabouts — amusing, 
lather, for the spectators. The grounded ones usually sing 
hymns or dance the varsoviana, I believe, to beguile the time. 
You never heard of the varsoviana, perhaps, Mrs. Westray. It is 
a dance known in the dark ages, before the Indian Mutiny, and 
k' 111 affected by the lower classes." And so talking, Mr. Lynd- 
hurst follows Editha into the house, the parlour-maid having been 
recalled to a consciousness of her duties by this time. 

The house has a deserted look on this summer Sabbath evening. 
The light is dying in the saffron west, and the corners of the 
ri >om are shadowy. 

" Don't ring for lamps on my account, Mrs. Westray," says 
Lyndhurst, as Editha lays her hand on the bell. "This July twi- 
light is delicious." 

"Yes, there is a lovely calmness in this faint gray light," she 
answers, seating herself in a low chair in the balcony, which at 
this season is like a part of the room. " But it is rather melan- 
choly, at least when one is — " 

" Already disposed to sadness ? " hazards Lyndhurst. 

" I did not quite mean that. When one is alone." 

"True," he answers gravely. "Solitude is only tolerable to 
the man who has nothing to regret. Nay, for the man who does 
p"'gret there is no such thing as solitude. His loneliness is peopled 
with phantoms." 

Editha sighs. Her lonely hours have their ghost. They are 
haunted by the memory of happier days. 

" You are thinking of leaving town soon, I suppose ? " asks 
Mr. Lyndhurst. It is the stereotyped question just now. 

" Almost immediately. Baby and I are going to Wales next 
week, to stay with my father." 

"Baby and you, and baby's papa, of course," remarks Mr. 

Hostages to Fortune. 213 

Lyndhurst, with supreme innocence, having only yesterday at 
his club distinctly heard Herman say that he was too hard at 
work to take his wife into the country. 

" No, I am sorry to say Herman is not able to go with us. He 
is so anxious about his literary engagements. He has a com- 
mission for a new comedy, to be produced early in the winter.' ' 

" At the Frivolity ? " 

"No. His last piece is likely to run for a year, I believe." 

" He is lucky in having such an actress as Mrs. Brandreth. 
Wonderful woman ; gifted in every way." 

" Yes, she is very clever, and very fascinating." 

" Charming, isn't she ? Artificial of course. She would never 
have taken such a brilliant position if she were not artificial. 
And when art is so delightful, why should one languish for 

" She struck me as spontaneous in her acting." 

"Yes, she has her sudden flashes of passion, like Edmund 
Kean. But underlying all that seems spontaneous there is a 
mathematical knowledge of effect. She can calculate the force 
and pressure of her art to a hair. Curious that a simple girl, 
brought up, not amongst the lamps and sawdust, but in a quiet 
Devonshire village, should develop into such an artist." 

" Devonshire ! " repeats Editha curiously. " Does Mrs. Brand- 
reth come from Devonshire ? " 

" Didn't you know that ? " 

" No, indeed. I had no idea that she was a countrywoman of 

Lyndhurst looks at her for a few moments thoughtfully, as if 
he were weighing some question in his mind, and then replies in 
his most careless tone. He might tell her something about her 
husband's past which would sting her to the quick ; but it strikes 
him that the time is not yet ripe for him to impart that piece of 
information. He has his fuse ready, whenever he cares to use it, 
but is in no hurry to spring the mine. 

"Well, I am not sure that she is a native, but I know she 
was brought up in the West of England. Are you fond of the 
drama, Mrs. Westray ? Do you like your husband to write for 
the stage ? " 

" I like him to be successful in his art," she answers, " and to 
follow the natural bent of his genius. But I sometimes think 
that he would be happier if he wrote only books. He is too 
anxious for the success of his plays, too much elated by triumph, 
too much depressed by failure. A book can afford to wait for 
praise and recognition, but a play — " 

" Assails Fortune like a highwayman, demanding your money 


214 Hostages to Fortune. 

or your life," says Lyndhurst, laughing. " I always pity the un- 
happy author on those brilliant first nights, when all intellectual 
London is on the alert, quite as ready to hiss a defeat as to 
applaud a success. One sees the wretched being who has set the 
puppets in motion writhing in the stalls, or smiling with a dolorous 
smile at those jokes which he thought would set the house in a 
roar, and which nobody sees. How flat his impassioned speeches 
seem to fall — what weaknesses he sees in the fabric of his play 
to-night, which never struck him at rehearsal ! How keenly 
those agonised eyes of his examine the faces of the critics, in- 
scrutable as the Sphinx ! And when a man in the gallery laughs 
in the right place, he could hug that man in a gush of gratitude. 
No, Mrs. Westray, I do not envy the dramatist his rare triumphs. 
Your husband must be working rather too hard, by the way, 
when he cannot afford himself an autumnal holiday, were it ever 
bo brief." 

"Yes," answers Editha with a sigh, "it has been a great disap- 
pointment to all of us. I think even baby understands, and is 
sorry papa is not going into the country with him." 

" Intelligent baby ! I suppose the little one is not on view so 
late in the evening ? I should have liked to see what progress he 
has made since he and I made friends in the early summer." 

Mr. Lyndhurst on one of his friendly visits has been introduced 
to baby, and has contrived to fascinate that young member of 
the household. There are men whom children, horses, and dogs 
are attracted to ; not always the best men, perhaps. Is it not 
rather a question of animal magnetism than superlative virtue, 
this influence which man exercises over the lesser brutes ? 

" Baby has been fast asleep for ever so long, I hope. Herman 
is dining with Mrs. Brandreth, to meet Mr. Molony, the American 
poet. I wonder you are not there." 

"Mrs. Brandreth was kind enough to ask me, and her Sunday 
evenings are charming. But there are times when one is not 
quite in tune with that kind of thing ; times when a solitary 
ramble in the lanes about Wimbledon Common is better than 
brilliant society and a file-firing of epigrams. I enjoy half-an- 
liour's quiet chat like this more than the loudest roaring of Mrs. 
Brandreth's literary lions." 

" It is good of you to enliven my solitude for a little while," 
replies Editha, who is really cheered by this friendly talk in the 
twilit balcony, and whose innocence has no knowledge of Mr. 
Lyndhurst's evil repute. She knows he is her husband's friend, 
and accepts that fact as a certificate of character. " I wonder 
you do not go to Mrs. Brandreth's for the sake of the music," 
she adds. " Herman' tells me there is often first-rate music." 

Hostages to Fortune. 215 

" Some of the best, doubtless ; but do not think me egotistical 
if I confess that I would rather play one of Beethoven's sonatas 
to myself, in a half-dark room like this, than hear it performed a 
great deal better amidst the half -whispered chit-chat of a parcel 
of people of whom about one in ten knows what is being played, 
while one in twenty cares about it." 

" You play so well that you can afford to say that." 

" I think I should feel it if I could not play at all. I would 
hire some half-starved professor — an unappreciated genius — to 
play Beethoven and Mozart for me between the lights, while I 
smoked my pipe. Music to the" man or woman who cares for it 
is better than opium-eating. Your true musician sees as many 
visions as were ever beheld by Coleridge or De Quincey." 

" If he starts with as rich an imagination as Coleridge or De 
Quincey. A man's own mind must create his dream pictures. 
Opium or music can only set the machinery in motion." 

" True, Mrs. Westray. In that case I am not without imagina- 
tion. I know there are times when my fancy is a daring one." 

Something in his tone, which sinks to deeper earnestness with 
this last sentence," might give the alarm to a woman of the 
world ; but to Editha it conveys nothing beyond the idea that 
Mr. Lyndhurst has more sentiment, or even romance, in his 
composition than she has given him credit for. 

"It is curious that you should be going to Wales," he says 
presently, after a pause, in which they have both looked dreamily 
at the river. 

'■ Curious that I am going to my father's house ! " she exclaims 

" Ah, to be sure ; I forgot that. I meant that it was curious 
you should be going to Wales just now. My doctor has ordered 
me to drink the sulphur water at a place with an odd name — let 
me see — Llandrysak, I think it is called." 

" That is within ten miles of Lochwithian, my father's place. 
How curious ! " 

"Odd, isn't it?" 

" Very ; but I believe the doctors are beginning to think a good 
deal of the Llandrysak springs. Herman was sent there for his 
health three years ago." 

" And it was by that hazard he met you ? Happy man to find 
a treasure even greater than health ! If every sick Numa could 
discover such an Egeria at the spring he is sent to, water cure 
would be your only remedy." 

" I am sorry to hear you are ill enough to be sent to Llandry- 
sak," says Editha. 

" 111! " he repeats rather vacantly. " 0, it is not absolute ill- 

216 Hostages to Fortune. 

ness ! Want of tone, the doctors call it ; or in other words, a 
fatal tendency towards old age. However, I expect the Welsh 
waters to make me young again. May I do myself the pleasure 
of calling on Mr. Morcombe, since I am to be so near ? I have 
already made his acquaintance, you know, here at a very agreeable 

" Ah, -I remember you met papa here. I have no doubt he'll 
be pleased to see you again," says Editha, with galling indiffer- 
ence ; and then remembering Mr. Lyndhurst's one sublime power, 
she adds, with more' interest, " I should like to introduce you to 
my sister, and for her to hear you play, if possible. She is an 
invalid, and rarely has the pleasure of hearing good music." 

" Except when you play to her." 

" I ! 0, my powers are very small in that way. I can play 
just well enough to please and soothe poor Euth, when there is 
no better music to be had." 

Evening has deepened into night by this time — summer stars 
peeping out of the shadowy summer sky ; the lights of Putney 
shining through the river mists ; one lazy boat moving gently 
with the stream, the oars resting in the rullocks, the oarsmen 
singing softly as they drift. Mr. Lyndhurst feels that to prolong 
his visit would be an impertinence. 

" Good-bye, Mrs. Westray ; I'll go and smoke my cigar in the 
Wimbledon lanes. At least I won't say good-bye, but au revoir, 
in the hope of seeing you at Lochwithian." And thus they shake 
hands and part, and it seems to Hamilton Lyndhurst that he is 
voluntarily departing out of paradise. Perhaps in the worst 
men's minds there is some latent capacity for pure feeling, and 
in the worst men's lives one love which is not all unholy. Or 
say rather that through the dark veil that shuts these evil natures 
from the good man's heaven there flashes an occasional ray of 
light. They are capable of feeling as tender a reverence for 
virtue as Faust felt beside Gretchen's pillow, and they are capable 
of sinning as Faust sinned against the woman whose purity can 
move them to tears. 

Hamilton Lyndhurst reviews his career that night as he smokes 
the pipe of contemplation in the Wimbledon lanes, and he tells 
himself that his life and his character might have been different 
had he met such a woman as Editha ten years earlier. 

" I am the kind of man who must be happy at any price," he 
says to himself ; "but happiness would have been none the less 
sweet to me if I had found it in the paths of virtue. Vice in 
the abstract has no attraction for me. I have admired and 
pursued worthless women, knowing them worthless ; but I never 
loved such an one. With me vice has been another name for 

Hostages to Fortune. 217 

convenience. Till I saw Westray's wife I never met with a 
woman worth the sacrifice of matrimony." 

Despite his sentimental talk with Editha of quiet evenings and 
the pleasures of solitude, there is nothing rarer in Mr. Lyndhurst's 
life than loneliness and self-inspection. He lives like a wealthy 
profligate in imperial Kome, surrounded with his little circle of 
parasites, flatterers, and flute-players. If he is weary or out of 
spirits, his mountebanks and jesters bring forth their treasures of 
wit and buffoonery for his diversion, his flute-players pipe their 
sweetest and smile their brightest to beguile him from thought or 
sadness. Thus he has hardly time to discover that his life is as 
foolish as it is worthless ; that his evil influence upon others whom 
his wealth corrupts or his selfishness destroys is even less than his 
evil influence upon himself. 

Of late the flute-players, parasites, and flatterers have found 
their lord and patron less amusable than of old. He has changed 
his bosom friend once in six months, instead of once in two 
years. He has given fewer dinners, has not driven his chosen 
set to Virginia Water once in the season that is just over, and 
has displayed unmitigated weariness at those banquets at Green- 
wich and Richmond which have been eaten at his cost. His team 
of bays and their attendant grooms have had an easy time of it 
this year ; for, except to put in an appearance at Hyde-Park 
Corner on field days, Mr. Lyndhurst has made little use of his 
drag. The mail phaeton, with the tall chestnuts, has been 
altogether idle, Mr. Lyndhurst spending his leisure for the most 
part in lounging about his Walham-Green garden, where there is 
a spacious shrubbery-surrounded lawn, enriched with three of 
those fine old cedars which are still to be found in this south- 
western suburb. It is a garden as completely hidden from the 
outer world as if it were a clearing in the Australian Bush ; and 
here Hamilton Lyndhurst, stretched at ease upon the velvet 
sward, in smoking-jacket and slippers, reads the newspapers, or 
dozes over a French novel on sultry summer mornings, till it is 
time to dress and repair to the clubs or the City, where he dis- 
poses of his afternoon either in gossip or business, winding up 
with a little dinner at club or restaurant, and finishing his even- 
ing in haunts known to his species, and to no other section of 

_ The flute-players and parasites, perceiving this change in their 
city Saidanapalus, lay their heads together and hold counsel as 
to the cause. The parasites opine that their patron has been 
losing money ; has been hard hit, has come to grief in one of 
those commercial steeplechases in which the riders make a short 
cut to wealth through other people's fortunes. The flute-players 

218 Hostages to Fortune. 

sigh, and suggest that Mr. Lyndhurst may have fallen in love. 
The chief parasite laughs, or in his own vernacular " screams," 
at the notion. 

" He has been falling in love once in six months or so for the 
last fifteen years," says this gentleman ; " and did you ever know 
his last infatuation put him out of sorts ? He is like Bussy 
Eabutin, he takes the fever lightly. Depend upon it, the source 
of his gloom is in the House, and not in the heart." 

" Perhaps he is tired of us," speculates one of the flute-players. 
" He is sometimes barely civil, and he forgot to send me the 
gloves I won at Goodwood. At least, I'm not quite clear 
that I won them, but I know I asked him to send them to me 
— lavender and apricot, four buttons. I wanted them quite 

" A bad sign, that sort of thing, no doubt ; but if we bored 
him he would give us the sack. No man has a more placid way 
of letting his dear friends know they're out of fashion." 

" True," sighsthe damsel ; " poor Florence Montmorency almost 
broke her heart at his treatment." 

" She did more," replies the parasite ; " she put down her 

Thus argue Mr. Lyndhurst's friends, M r hile the subject of their 
discourse goes his way, unhappy, yet not altogether hopeless. 
A man who for fifteen years has commanded all prizes that 
Fortune can give is hardly to be persuaded, save by the experience 
of absolute failure, that life holds anything quite out of his 
reach. Hamilton Lyndhurst is the spoiled child of a money- 
making age ; an age in which the power of wealth overrides every 
other potentiality ; an age of gold, in which rank and ancient 
race have dwindled from their place, or have voluntarily cast 
themselves down before the chariot of a gilded Juggernaut. 

Hamilton Lyndhmst is one of those men for whom good luck 
seems to be an inheritance. Manhood brought him no estate 
save his brains, but he has been what his intimates call " in the 
swim" from the very beginning of his career. He is a man 
who turns all he touches to gold ; or who, touching anything not 
so convertible, lets it go again so quickly as to escape impoverish- 
ment from the contact. He is in and out of a hazardous specu- 
lation before the general public have quite made up their minds 
about it ; but to whatever dismal depth of discount the shares in 
that speculation eventually descend, they are sure to be above 
par just in that halcyon week when Mr. Lyndhurst sells out 
Clergymen's widows and speculative spinsters may bemoan tha 
collapse of that bubble into which their little capitals have melted, 
but however brief the delusion Mr. Lyndhurst has awakened in 

Hostages to Fortune. 219 

timo to retire advantageously. Touch and go has been the 
ruling principle of all his operations. He is the Proteus of the 
Stock Exchange, and those who know him best, and regulate 
their ventures by his genius, may have some idea of his opera- 
tions to-day, but cannot venture a guess as to his transactions to- 
morrow. And thus, having ridden on the shoulders of Fortune 
as on a horse; having been lucky himself, and the source of 
luck in others ; having been flattered, followed, and caressed 
from youth to middle age, never having encountered the mind 
which his wealth could not influence, or the rectitude which it 
could not corrupt, the idea of failure in any enterprise he may un- 
dertake, however wicked or however perilous, finds no place in 
Hamilton Lyndhurst's thoughts. He sees Editlm Westray the 
devoted wife of another man, and, undaunted, unabashed by her 
purity, tells himself that she is just the one woman who could 
redeem his existence from vapid profligacy and stale pleasures, 
and open for him the gates of that unknown world of placid 
domesticity which, seen from afar, seems to him the wearied 
profligate's natural haven of rest. He tells himself furthermore 
that there is no legal process in the land more common than the 
loosening of, marriage bonds, and sets himself to consider by 
what concatenation of circumstances Editha might be divorced 
from the husband who so poorly appreciates her peerless worth, 
and be rendered free to bless the man who knows her value. 

Mr. Lyndhurst has seen Herman at Mrs. Brandreth's very often 
of late, has observed their confidential converse, which may or 
may not be flirtation, but which assuredly has a sentimental air. 
Those evenings spent in Myra's drawing-room appear to Mr. 
Lyndhurst an evidence of Herman's weariness at home. The 
golden days are over ; the husband finds another woman more 
amusing than his wife, and that other the woman he once loved. 
Lj-ndhurst has had the secret of that early attachment from Myra's 
own lips, in one of those fits of despair in which a woman must 
have a confidant, however dangerous. 

Unhappily, no sin of Herman's — were he to exuberate from 
foolishness into sin — would loosen the legal tie. He is not likely 
to assail his wife to the endangerment of life or limb in the pre- 
sence of witnesses, and only by absolute cruelty can he forfeit 
the right to be, by law, her husband. On this side Mr. Lyndhurst 
sees no hope. But the wife, by one rash act, by one fatal un- 
premeditated step, by folly that should look like sin — nay, with 
perfect innocence of act and intention, betrayed into some false 
position by the treachery of others, netted and trapped like a 
snared bird — might snap the chain which a masculine legislature 
has contrived to make so brittle £or woman, so strong for man. 

220 Hostages w roriune. 

Dark and cloudy are Hamilton Lyndhurst's ideas at present ; 
vague and shadowy the visions of his head upon his bed. But 
Editha's is the one image that occupies his reveries and haunts 
his dreams, and all his thoughts tend one way. 

It is just possible that he might have ceased to think of one 
whose purity and fidelity would seem to place her in a region 
beyond the hopes of the most audacious dreamer if his thoughts 
had been allowed to follow their own bent, uninfluenced by 
subtle suggestions from another. True that he is a bold, bad 
man ; a man who has said to himself with Satan, " Evil, be thou 
my good ;" a man who believes in nothing, hopes for nothing, 
fears nothing, beyond this imperceptible spot upon the face of 
nature which we call the world. Yet even the most unscrupu- 
lous sinner recoils before the beauty of absolute purity, and 
Hamilton Lyndhurst might have reconciled himself to the fact 
that here was one woman utterly beyond reach of temptation, 
had he not been stimulated to hopefulness by the voice of the 

The tempter speaks in the accents of Myra Brandreth, who 
takes care to inform Mr. Lyndhurst from time to time of Herman's 
moral deterioration ; how he has grown weary of domesticity 
already, and is never so happy as when away from home ; how 
Mrs. Westray is evidently — a useful word, and of widest signi- 
ficance, that evidently — unappreciated and neglected. A pity ; 
so young and lovely a creature ; but rather dull, Mrs. Brandreth 
opines, and hardly a fitting companion for Herman. 

" You ought to have married him," says Mr. Lyndhurst. 

Myra sighs. 

" I think we should have suited each other," she answers, with 
placid melancholy. 

As one confidence deserves another, Mr. Lyndhurst lets her 
into the secret of his intense admiration for Mrs. Westray. He 
describes that feeling as a sentiment of exquisite purity, the 
worship of some bright particular star, rather than admiration of 
another man's wife. Myra sympathises abundantly, and is all 
the more sorry for Mr. Lyndhurst's hopeless passion because the 
lady who inspires it is so unhappy in her union with Herman 

" A literary man should never marry at all," says Mrs. Brand- 
reth conclusively. " He is too self-absorbed, too dependent on 
the sunshine of the hour, to make a good husband. Or if he 
must marry, he should at least choose a wife who can help him 
in his art." 

" As you help Westray," suggests Lyndhurst, with his subtle 
smile. "However dear his wife may be to him as the sharer of 

Hostages to Fortune. 221 

his home, you are the partner of his dramatic successes, and 
have exercised the greater influence on his career." 

Myra sighs again, a deprecating sigh this time, as if she would 
fain dispute the statement were it not so obviously true. And 
thus, the subject of conversation between two utterly unscrupu- 
lous people, who have never acknowledged any higher law than 
their own inclinations, Editha may be said to walk blindfold in 
paths of danger. 


" But Faustus' offence can ne'er be pardoned ; the serpent that tempted 
Eve may be saved, but not Faustus." 

Home, a peaceful land smiling in the ripening harvest sunshine. 
How sweet it is to Editha, returning to her old life, surrounded 
by the old faces, as in the days that are gone — so utterly gone, 
so far away even in her memory, that she almost wonders at 
finding little change in the familiar scenes and faces of her 
youth! Not a flower in the garden but blooms as when the 
garden was her peculiar care ; but in herself there is a change as 
of half a centuiy's experience of life and its bitterness. Not 
for worlds would she confess even to herself, that she has been 
mistaken in her choice or unhappy in her wedded life ; but look- 
ing back at the last year, from the stand-point of peace and 
home, she knows that it has been full of care. 

She feels that her arrival without Herman is a disappointment 
and a cause of wonder for everybody at Lochwithian. Euth 
says little, careful not to wound, and seems quite satisfied with 
Editha's excuses for her husband ; but the Squire, outspoken and 
not richly endowed with tact, talks a good deal about his son-in- 
law's absence, and in a manner that wounds Editha to the quick. 

" I never supposed that a daughter of mine would have had to 
travel two hundred miles with only a chit of a nursemaid to take 
care of her. If you had told me that your husband couldn't 
bring you, I'd have come up to London to fetch you." 

" Indeed, dear papa, there was not the least occasion for your 
doing so. I could travel much farther with nurse and baby with- 
out inconvenience." 

" It's lucky for you that you're so strong-minded," replies the 
father grumpily ; " for you've married a man who doesn't seem 

222 Hostages to Fortune. 

inclined to give himself much trouble in taking care of yon. 
Tilings would have been vastly different if you had maimd 
Vivian Hetheridge — poor young fellow, not married yet, and 
broken-hearted about you, every one says." 

'' papa, I saw him last Christmas, and he has grown ever so 
stout, and looked wonderfully well." 

" A man may gain weight in spite of his broken heart. A 
fellow who gets a disappointment of that kind often drops his 
hunting, and eats and drinks more than is good for him — grows 
careless about gaining flesh, and goes to the bad altogether. If 
Hetheridge had got over your treatment of him he'd have married 
before now. A man with such an estate as his is bound to marry. 
Ah, how nice it would have been to have you within a ten-milo 
ride of us ! " 

" Come, papa, I think you have quite enough of me, taking 
my half-yearly visits into consideration. See how serious you've 
made baby look. He is wondering what you are talking about." 

The Squire, who has had too many grandchildren to consider 
the relationship a privilege, pokes his finger into the infant's 
chubby neck, and chirrups inanely. 

Wherever Editha goes, whomsoever she sees, she has to answer 
the same inquiries about her absent husband. Her marriage 
with the popular young writer has been regarded as a small 
romance in its way, a love-match pure and simple, and people 
expect to see husband and wife inseparable, an idyllic pair of 
lovers unspoiled by matrimony. Thus every one is disappointed, 
and regards Herman's non-appearance as a kind of defection. 
Mr. Petherick shakes his head and frowns gravely. 

" Hard at work at a new play, is he ? You shouldn't let him 
work so hard — wear out his brain, exhaust his constitution ; make 
him old before his time," he says seriously. 

" Indeed, dear Mr. Petherick, I have been most anxious that 
he should take more rest ; but he is in such a hurry to make a 
fortune for baby." 

" Fortunes are never made in a hurry, my dear. It is the tor- 
toise who gets rich, not the hare." 

" Then I fear Herman will never be rich. There is nothing of 
the plodder in his nature." 

" So much the worse for both of you," retorts Mr. Petherick. 
" Show me the man who can plod, and I'll show you the man 
who will succeed. Your lively geniuses, who make a premature 
success and end in failure, pretend to associate patient industry 
with dulness ; but that idea is only one of those self-sustaining 
delusions with which idlers console themselves." 

" His worst enemy could not accuse Herman of idleness," 

Hostages to Fortune. 223 

replies Editha. " I doubt if Mr. Shinebarr, the Queen's Counsel, 
works harder." 

" Does he work with method ? " interrogates the Incumbent 
significantly ; and to this question Mrs. Westray is slow to reply, 
for her husband's literary labour has of late grown more and 
more fitful and disorderly. He has written for ten hours at a 
stretch one day, and abandoned his desk altogether on the next, 
at the call of some one of those various excuses for waste of 
time which the world misnames pleasure. He has worked from 
midnight till morning on a Monday, and has spent Tuesday 
stretched on a sofa reading a French novel, in the last stage of 
lassitude. He has deserted his study for a week, and then shut 
himself up there for days and nights in succession, like Balzac, 
writing as if driven by Furies ; the ultimate result of these 
spasmodic labours being a less amount of work done than in the 
calm first year of his married life, when he spent his mornings 
from eleven till two, and his evenings from nine till eleven, in 
the domestic retirement of his den, Editha working or reading by 
fireside or window. Latterly he has been only able to write 
when alone. The watchful eyes of love have disconcerted him. 

Even Mrs. Gredby has something to say about the absent hus- 
band when Editha goes to see her. Mrs. Westray drives to the 
New Inn in a basket pony-carriage with nurse and baby, which 
latter small individual has to be introduced to every hill and 
valley, copse and rivulet, wood and meadow, familiar to his 
mother's girlhood. 

"And where's the young gentleman from London?" asks 
Mrs. Gredby when she has done admiring the baby, whom she 
regards as an infant prodigy, and who curiously enough shows 
himself most graciously disposed both to Mrs. -Gredby and Mrs. 
Gredby's old gentleman in the chimney-corner — an infant who 
has met the advances of the county families with contumely. 
" And why didn't he drive over from the Priory with you this 
fine morning ? " 

Editha explains. 

" I should have thought that people could write books any- 
wheres," remarks Mrs. Gredby, " purvided they'd a bottle of ink, 
a penn'orth of steel nibs, and a quire of letter-paper. It do seem 
hard for you to be down here without your husband. Such a 
loving couple as you looked, too, that day you brought him to 
see me. But, to be sure, that was before you was married. 1 
haven't worn my Paisley shawl but once since your wedding- 
day, Miss Editha, and that was at Llanryddyth Eisteddfod last 
July. And there sits my old gentleman ; no change in him, is 
there ? He's looked ready for his coffin for the last ten years ; 

224 Hostages to Fortune. 

but except rheumatics in every joint, there's not much the matter 
with him." 

This cheering statement being repeated in a louder key, the old 
gentleman nods assent thereto blithely. 

" No, there ain't much amiss with me except rheumatics," he 
says. " Lord forbid I should repine against Providence ; but if 
we must be made with so many jints, it seems a little hard upon 
us that we ain't purvided with a larger supply of ile to keep 'era 
going. But we've all got our burdens. My father had a hassmer, 
and that were a deal worse ; his pore old lungs were that weak 
as he couldn't reach up to the shelf for his pipe without panting 
as if he were a-goin' to choke ; and I'm sure the noises he made 
of a hevening was ekal in variety to a band o' wind hinstru- 
ments. I haven't had much use in my limbs the last two winters, 
but my lungs is sound, and I can enjoy my bit o' baccy. The 
missus is hearty enough ; though she's a-growing the box for her 
grave in our back garding." 

" How do I know that anybody else would take the trouble to 
grow it for me?" remarks Mrs. Gredby briskly ; "there's nothing 
like looking arter your own affairs if you want 'em attended to. 
I shall be under no compliment to neighbours for the box coffin 
a-top o' my grave ; and the thought of that will be a comfort to 
me as I lie in it," adds the independent-minded mistress of the 
New Inn. 

There is one change which Editha perceives at Lochwithian, 
and it is one that pierces her heart, for it, is a change for the 
worse in Ruth. The beautiful face is more delicate, more ethe- 
real than when Editha saw it six months ago. The white hand 
is more transparent in its ivory pallor. The dark eyes are larger 
and more lustrous. The chrysalis of mortality perishes and 
shrinks as that butterfly, the immortal spirit, expands its heaven- 
ward-soaring wings. To those who read aright, Euth wears the 
stamp of a creature in process of translation from the earthly to 
the spiritual. 

Yet never has the invalid been more cheerful, more hopeful 
about herself. She suffers less than of old, reads much, talks 
much at times, and with delightful animation. Her joy in 
Editha's presence is unbounded ; her only subject of regret is 
the weakness which renders her long-promised journey to London 
impossible just now. 

" I should so love to see your house, darling," she says, when 
the sisters are alone together in the summer dusk, hand clasped 
in hand, Editha on a low chair by Euth's pillow. " 1 begin to 
wonder if I shall ever see it. Last year Dr. Davies said next 
year, and now this summer it is next year still. Well, even next 

Hostages to Fortune. 225 

year will come at last, I suppose, and I shall see my pet in her 
own home, the cleverest of housekeepers." 

" I don't know about clever housekeeping," Editha answers 
ruefully. " We spend a great deal of money, and I can't quite 
make out how it goes. Of course everything is very dear, as 
cook says, and Herman is particular about his dinners, and likes 
game and fish directly it comes in season. We gave three and- 
sixpence a pound for salmon ever so many times in the spring ; 
and as cook fries whitebait very nicely, I ordered a pint for Her- 
man two or three times a week in.the season. But even allow- 
ing for small extravagances of that kind, I think our housekeep- 
ing costs more than it ought." 

Hereupon follows a lengthy and confidential conversation, in 
which Editha gives Ruth various details of domestic economy, or 
domestic extravagance. Ruth is shocked at hearing the cost of 
that small menage at Fulham, and suggests dishonesty on the 
part of Mrs. Files. Beer, grocery, butcher's meat, everything 
costs about double what it ought, as Ruth demonstrates to her 
sister by a rough-and-ready comparison between the Fulham 
and Lochwithian bills — therefore Mr. and Mrs. Westray are being 

"It is very dreadful to suspect any one," says Editha, discom- 
posed by this suggestion. 

" It is still worse to encourage dishonesty by wilfully shutting 
one's eyes to it. Let me find you a young woman who can cook 
— one of your old pupils, perhaps — and take her back with you." 

" Do you think we could find one who would cook well enough 
for Herman ? " inquires Editha doubtfully. 

" Why not ? I should not engage an inexperienced person ; 
but I would make it my business to find a woman of unimpeach- 
able character." 

" I had an excellent character with Ann Files," remarks 

"Had you any character of the person who gave the 
character ? " 

" Of course not. The lady was quite a stranger to me." 

" And she wanted to get rid of a bad servant without what 
people call ' unpleasantness.' I daresay that's how it was. Let 
me get you a cook, darling, and if she does not fry whitebait as 
well as this Ann Files, depend upon it she will reduce your 
housekeeping expenses by nearly half." 

" That would be indeed a comfort. It sometimes makes me 
juite unhappy to think how hard Herman has to work to 
pay for things that are thrown on the dust-heap — broken 
jhina, half-burned coals, and so on. And yet I am always beg- 

226 Hostages to Fortune. 

ging Files to be economical, and she assures me that it goes to 
her heart to waste anything; but the things do get wasted 

" The cook I get you will not be wasteful, dear. I am so 
glad we have had this little talk, and that I can be useful to you 
in some small way." 

Editha is grateful, but is sorely exercised by the thought that 
Mrs. Files is possibly not so' honest as she might be. The idea 
of having been plundered largely for the last two years ; of re- 
trospective wastefulness which might have been avoided had 
she, Editha, been more careful ; the idea of Herman's genius 
having been compelled to do task-work in order that Ann Files 
might squander the fruits thereof, — notions such as these present 
themselves to the young wife's mind in a very painful manner, 
and she is thoughtful and unhappy for the rest of the evening. 

Ruth and Mrs. Jones, the good old Lochwithian housekeeper, 
hold a consultation next morning, at which Editha is present. 
Mrs. Jones knows the history of all the young women within ten 
miles of the Priory, and can lay her hands on a culinary trea- 
sure forthwith. Betsy Evans — not the daughter of Evans the 
grocer, nor Evans the butcher, nor Evans at the Hill Farm, nor 
Evans who keeps the Prince Albert Inn — but of another Evans 
who cobbles. Betsy has been a pupil of Editha's at Lochwithian 
school, and has since graduated as kitchen-maid under Mrs. Davis 
at Llanmoel Manor-house. 

" Are not kitchen-maids in large houses apt to learn wasteful 
ways ? " inquires Editha, with a vivid recollection of Jane Tubbs, 
who had budded as a kitchen-maid in Belgrave-square to blossom 
as a cook at Fulham, and who was in the habit of bringing for- 
ward " the square " as a precedent for every extravagance, such 
as the expenditure of a pound of lard for the frying of a single 
sole, or the investment of two pounds of gravy-beef in a small 
boat of gravy, which would have been flavourless if it had not 
been one-third Worcester sauce. 

" Wasteful !" exclaims Mrs. Jones, horrified. "Wastefulness 
was never learned at Llanmoel Manor. Mrs. Davis is a woman 
who couldn't rest quiet in her bed at night if she thought she 
had wasted so much as the bread-crumbs off! the table-cloth. 
Her poultry is the finest in Radnorshire, and her hens lay all the 
winter through." 

It is agreed that Betsy Evans shall be engaged to accompany 
Mrs. Westray to London, upon whose return to Fulham Mrs. 
Files is to be dismissed with a month's wages. Mrs. Files will 
of course be angry and remonstrant at this uncourteous treat- 
ment ; but if she has been as dishonest as Ruth believes, she is 

Hostages to Fortune. 227 

not entitled to much courtesy. Editha is delighted at the idea of 
keeping house with less money, and sparing her dear Herman in 
some manner. 

" It has gone to my heart to ask him for money so often, 
knowing how hard he has to work for it," she says sadly ; for she 
fuels that the last year of her wedded life might have been 
happier but for that strain upon her husband's invention, 
which has made him at once absent-minded, irritable, and 
moody by the domestic hearth, and eager for the relief of lively 
society abroad. 

Baby, otherwise George Edward, by which names he has been 
christened, after his two grandfathers, flourishes marvellously in 
the clear Welsh air, fresh, life-giving, as it blows over the hill- 
side sheep-walks, the ferny dells and pine-groves. To see the 
chubby yearling grow rosy and strong, or to hear his happy 
voice — shrill and loud — as he crawls or rolls upon the short sweet 
turf, is a joy for Editha, and to be" with liuth a still deeper 
delight. Yet this first separation from Herman is a sharper trial 
than the young wife could have foreseen. Her life is snapped 
asunder, and the larger half of heart and mind are with her 
husband. Her health improves in her native air, in the divine 
repose of a country life ; but, even seated by Ruth's couch, her 
thoughts are with Herman in his study. She sees him careworn 
and anxious, fretful and excited, writing for bread. 

" How I wish he loved the country as I do, Euth ! " she ex- 
claims one day, breaking off from the previous subject of con- 
versation to talk of her husband. " He " always means Herman in 
Editha's discourse. " We should be rich then, with my poor 
little income and the earnings of one novel a year. No need 
for him to write plays, or worry himself about dramatic critics. 
I was thinking to-day, as I looked at that pretty house just under 
the brow of the hill on the Llandrysak road, what a happy home 
it might be for Herman and me — such a dear old house and 
gaulen, all going to rack and ruin for want of a tenant. How 
cheaply we might live there — no carriage, no dinner-parties, no 
expensive amusements, but just the simplest, easiest life, such 
as one can fancy Wordsworth and Southey leading in the Lake 
country ! " 

''It would be very nice, darling, if it were possible," replies 
Euth ; " it would make my life more happy than words can tell 
to have you always near me. And surely Herman would write 
better face to face with nature." 

Editha shakes her head despondently. 

" I have told him so sometimes," she says ; " but he asks me 
if Samuel Johnson wrote face to face with nature, or Charles 

228 Hostages to Fortune. 

Lamb, or Thackeray, or Dickens. I reminded him once that all 
our greatest poets have lived remote from cities, at which he 
laughed and said, ' There's a trifling exception to your rule in the 
person of one William Shakespeare, whose works were for the 
most part produced in the neighbourhood of Blackfriars, as the 
dramatic exigences of the Globe Theatre demanded. Ben 
Jonson, Marlow, Dryden, and a few others were also denizens 
of the streets.' And then he tells me that he is not a poet, 
but a painter of manners and a recorder of events, and that 
he must live where men abound and events follow one another 

" I should have thought that for a man who had seen the world 
and mingled largely with his fellow-men the repose of a country 
life would be most of all conducive to thought and invention," 
replies Euth. " Memory, undisturbed by the distractions of to- 
day, would reproduce the images and impressions of the past ; 
all that a man had seen, suffered, and felt would appear before 
him distinctly, as in a picture which he need only copy. I can 
hardly imagine any man writing a great book amidst the dis- 
tractions of London society." 

Herman's letters are frequent, but brief and hurried. He 
writes in a cheerful spirit, however, and begs his wife to be 
happy, and to obtain all the good she can for herself and baby 
from the healthful repose of home. " You were looking worn 
and harassed when you left me, dearest," he writes, with all his 
old tenderness. " I shall expect to see you return with the roses 
I admired so much in the young lady who gave the chief prize 
at the Eisteddfod." 

Editha has been at home nearly a fortnight, and has quite for- 
gotten Mr. Lyndhurst's intention of trying the healing waters of 
Llandrysak, nothing having yet occurred to remind her of that 
gentleman's existence. It is a sultry August afternoon — a 
day on which the world seems to have fallen asleep in the sun- 
shine, and even that sleepy hollow, Lochwithian, is a shade more 
slumberous than usual. The waters of the Pennant have dwindled 
to a thread of silver, and trickle gently over those crags adown 
which they are wont to tumble furiously with the brawl of a 
small cataract It is Saturday afternoon, too, and everybody's 
work seems -to be done except Editha's. She and an under- 
gardener go down to the church together, laden with stephanotis 
and ferns for the decoration of altar and chancel, reading-desk 
and font ; not that to-morrow is any especial Sunday in the 
ecclesiastical calendar, but rather because the flowers are in their 
August prime, and Editha deems their fittest use is in the adorn- 
ment of her beloved church. 

Hostages to Forlinw. 229 

She takes the basket of flowers from the gardener in the porch, 
dismisses him, and goes in alone. The door of this house of 
prayer is left open for the most part, Mr. Petherick having a 
notion that a tired labourer returning from his daily toil may 
like now and then to enter that shadowy temple and kneel for a 
little while before the sculptured altar, whose Christian emblems 
no bishop has yet condemned. 

Editha pauses on the threshold, surprised, delighted by the 
sound of the organ, touched as she had never heard it touched 
before. Some one, a stranger, is playing Mendelssohn's " I 
waited for the Lord," and the instrument she knows so well is 
breathing forth tones of sweetness and power that moves her 
almost to tears. 

Who can the player be beneath whose skilful hands the organ 
speaks a new language ? Some tourist, no doubt. An occasional 
tourist, archa?ologically-minded, finds his way to Lochwithian in 
the course of a-summer, to grope and pry among the foundations 
of the Priory, and come to arbitrary conclusions about the history 

Mrs. Westray moves softly about her work, listening to the 
player. He glides from Mendelssohn into the " Agnus Dei " in 
Mozart's First Mass in C. The organ, a small one, is on one side 
of the chancel, screened by purple-silk curtains. Editha is very 
near the player as she builds a bank of flowers upon the reading- 
desk, pleased to think of Mr. Petherick's delight to-morrow when 
he sees her work. 

The last notes of the "Agnus Dei" fade into silence, the 
invisible stranger strikes a chord, and a deep full voice begins to 
sing a Latin version of Editha's favourite hymn, " Eock of Ages." 
The voice is Hamilton Lyndhurst's, and she wonders at herself 
for not having recognised the touch of the musician. No doubt 
it is because she has never heard him play the organ before. 

She goes on with her work noiselessly while he sings. She is 
wreathing one of the candelabra with stephanotis and long sprays 
of maiden-hair as Mr. Lyndhurst appears from behind the curtains. 
and his coming discomposes her no more than if he were the pur- 
blind little organist she has known from her childhood. He has 
quite enough penetration to see this, and is not flattered by the 
fact. It is new to him to meet a woman to whom his prescne 3 is 
a matter of indifference, and this woman is one upon whom he 
has bestowed more earnest thought than he has given to the rest 
of her sex in the aggregate. 

He has heard her enter the church, watched her through a 
chink in the curtains, and has played and sung for her edifica- 

230 Hostages to Fortune. 

" How do you like our organ, Mr. Lyndhurst ? " she asks as 
they shake hands. 

" Not at all bad for such a small one. I came to Lochwithian 
with the idea of calling at the Priory, but seeing the church door 
open strayed in to look at it, and could not resist . trying the 
organ. Fortunate for me, as I can now enter the Priory under 
your wing." 

" Papa will be very pleased to see you. Have you been lonff 
in Wales ? " 

" I came only yesterday." 

" Indeed ! .Then you have seen Herman, perhaps, this week ? " 
she says eagerly, delightedly, as if to have seen Herman was to 
belong to a privileged order of beings. 

" How the simpleton loves him ! " thinks Lyndhurst, upon 
whom this single-hearted, all-absorbing affection has no more 
influence than the plaintive bleating of the foredoomed calf 
upon its executioner the butcher, fie has made up his mind 
that this one woman can make him happy — can bend the strag- 
gling line of his life into a perfect circle, can harmonise an 
existence which is now chaotic ; and with what dishonour he may 
stain his manhood, what anguish he may inflict upon others ere he 
reach his aim, is a calculation that has no place in his thoughts. 

" Did you see him ? " She repeats her question eagerly, won- 
dering at that troubled look which clouds Mr. Lyndhurst's face 
for a moment. 

" Yes ; he dined at Mrs. Brandreth's last Sunday. A delight- 
ful little dinner. Just seven people, and, with the exception of 
your humble servant, all distinguished ; the kind of society 
Westray enjoys so thoroughly." 

" Yes," sighs Editha, " he is very fond of clever people. Did 
you think him looking ill — overworked ? " 

"On the contrary, he was in high spirits, and looked, as I 
thought, better than usual — younger, brighter, more like the 
young fellow I remember seven- years ago, fresh from Balliol, 
and full of enthusiasm and belief in the perf ectability of human 
nature. I daresay if I had seen him next morning in his study I 
should have found a difference. It is the reaction that tells. We 
did not leave Mrs. Brandreth's till the small hours. Eather too 
bad for a quiet little dinner, wasn't it ? So many people dropped 
in during the evening, and every one had so much to say." 

" I wonder Mrs. Brandreth can support the fatigue of those 
Sunday evenings, after acting six nights a week." 

" Do you ? That shows how little you know her. She is a 
creature who lives upon excitement, as a Malay upon opium. 
Give her leisure for thought, and she would die in a year." 

Hostages to Fortune. 231 

" Are her thoughts so bitter that she could not bear them ? " 

They have come out into the little garden-like churchyard, and 
linger, Mr. Lyndhurst looking rather absently at the tombstones 
as he talks. 

" I think she has had her disappointments — perhaps I ought 
rather to say disappointment ; for you know in my creed intense 
feeling conies but once in a life." 

" She was left a widow so early," says Eclitha compassionately. 

" Ye-es," drawls Lyndhurst ; " but I doubt if the loss of Captain 
Brandreth sits very heavily on her spirit." 

" Was he not a good man ? " 

" Good ? Not in the church-going sense, I fear ; but he was 
thoroughly harmless. A well-meaning young man, who carried 
a bull-terrier in his coat-pocket and gave his mind to billiards. 
Xobody's enemy but his own, and very much his own. He was 
of a good family, and had expectations. Myra Clitheroe married 
the expectations, which were nipped untimely by his death. I 
daresay that notion worries her a little." 

Editha looks grave. She and Myra have never fraternised, and 
she likes her less after this hasty sketch of Mr. Lyndhurst's. 

"I am glad you thought him looking well," she remarks, re- 
curring to Herman. 

" Poets always look well by lamplight. Have you seen his 
verses in the new weekly journal, the Connoisseur?" 

" Verses ? No, indeed. He so seldom writes poetry, though 
he is by nature a poet. Is there a poem of his in the Connoisseur ? 
And he has not sent it to me ! How cruel ! " 

" Perhaps he thinks it a little out of your line. The Connoisseur 
people wanted him to do something for their'first number, so he 
dashed off half-a-dozen verses ; and the little tour de force has 
made quite a hit. Every one was talking of it at Brandreth's the 

" And I have not seen it !" says Editha, chagrined. 

" Old story of the shoemaker's wife, you know. I can bring 
you the paper to-morrow, or send my groom over with it to-night, 
if you'd really like to see it." 

" I shall be so much obliged. What is the name of the 

" ' Ananke.' The word Claude Frollo cut upon the wall of 
his cell, you know, which in plain English means Fate. The 
title in Greek characters looks rather chic, I assure you. De 
Musset never did anything better than the poem. The Con- 
noisseur is going in for that kind of thing — abuses everybody, 
hits out from the shoulder right and left, and promises to be 
a success. I hear there are two injunctions and three actions for 

232 Hostages to Fortune. 

libel against the proprietors already ; but as the shareholders 
include two of our wealthiest noblemen and a great City swell 
that kind of thing won't balk them. I have pledged myself to 
support the paper to the extent of a few thousands." 

Editha's interest in the Connoisseur is bounded by that one 
column which contains her husband's verses. Mr. Lyndhurst 
perceives this, and does not pursue the subject. They pass from 
the churchyard to the shrubbery, and take the winding path to 
the house. It is nearly time for afternoon tea in Euth's room, 
and Editha means to offer Mr. Lyndhurst that innocent refection. 
They ascend the shrubberied slope side by side in friendly con- 
verse. It is like Eed Eidinghood showing the wolf the way to 
her grandam's cottage. 

" What do you think of Westray's continental expedition ? " 
Lyndhurst inquires presently. 

" Continental expedition ! I don't know what you mean," 
falters Editha, with an alarmed look. 

" Perhaps I oughtn't to have mentioned it. After all, it may 
be only an idea. But I thought he would have told you all about 

"About what?" 

"The proprietors of his old paper, the Day Star, want him to 
go as special war-correspondent for this Franco-Prussian scrim- 
mage. The man who has been doing the work has knocked 
under, and come home invalided. They offer Westray splendid 
terms, and he seems to think the thing would suit him — the 
variety and excitement freshen his brains, and so on. I daresay 
he feels himself a little used up after the pace he has been going 
— in literature, I mean — for the last two years." 

This remark comes like a stab. The last two years are his 
married life. It is for her sake, for the maintenance of that ex- 
pensive, ill-managed home, he has squandered the wealth of his 
brain, wasted his genius on recklessly rapid composition. The 
delicate flowers of his fancy have been forced to premature 
growth, and their price has gone to fill Ann Files's grease-pot. 

This bitter thought gives way before the appalling ideas con- 
jured up by that word "war-correspondent." A man who writes 
history at the cannon's mouth, amidst a hailstorm of shrapnell 
and grape, with murderous shells tearing up the earth round 
about him, with new-made chasms yawning before his feet, and 
the smoke-darkened air rent with the groans of the dying. 

" He would never think — he could not be so cruel ! " she gasps. 
" He would not hazard the life that is so dear — " 

" Hazard, my dear Mrs. Westray ! He would be in no more 
danger among the belligerents than in the retirement of his own 

tlostages to Fortune. 233 

study. You never heard of a special correspondent coming to 
grief. They talk very big, and to read their letters one would 
suppose they rode shoulder to shoulder with the commanding 
officer; but it's my belief they sit quietly by a wood fire in some 
roadside inn near the scene of operations, and got their informa- 
tion hot and hot from small boys. Your small boy would go up 
to the cannon's mouth and look into it for sixpence. I shall bo 
angiy with myself if I have ^ivcn you tho slightest alarm. 
After all, Westray may have no idea of accepting the Day Star 
people's offer. All I know is, that the offer was made, and talked 
about at Mrs. Brandreth's. But no doubt he has refused it, or he 
would have told you." 

" Yes," Editha says, slowly recovering composure ; " he would 
have told me. He never kept a secret from me in his life." 

" Ah, that's what all wives say," thinks Lyndhurst ; " but I 
fancy I could tell you something about him that would astonish 
you for all that." 

He has given her an uncomfortable, unsettled feeling about her 
absent husband, and that for the moment is enough ; so he 
changes the subject, talks of the scenery, admires Priory and 
garden. Editha has forgotten her idea of offering him tea 
till he reminds her of her promise to introduce him to her sister. 

" Miss Morcombe is fond of music, you told me ? " he says. 

" Passionately ; and she hears so little good music. I shall be 
very pleased if you will play to her. There is a harmonium in 
her room — the best papa could get for her. Herr Louis Engel 
chose it. Will you come to Euth's room, and have some tea ? " 

" I shall be charmed." 

They go in together, and Ruth looks up from Jeremy 
Taylor's Rule of Conscience — she is a lover of the old divine, 
whose quaintness and classic lore have a curious charm for her 
— astonished at the appearance of a stranger. 

" Mr. Lyndhurst, my sister. You have heard me talk of Mr. 
Lyndhurst, Ruth, one of Herman's old friends." 

The tea-table is ready. Editha takes off her hat, and seats 
herself before the old-fashioned silver urn, just as in the old 
clays when Herman first came to the Priory. Something of the 
glow and freshness of untroubled youth has faded from her face 
since that happy time, but the face has gained in dignity and 
beauty. To Lyndhurst it looks like the face of a queen. 

" My queen, at any rate," he says to himself ; " my lady, whom 
to love is honour." 

He takes his place at her side presently — Herman's old place 
— and performs the small services of the tea-table, addressing 
his conversation chiefly to Ruth, whom he is desirous to con- 

234 Hostages to Fortune. 

ciliate. They would seem to have not an idea in common, this in- 
valid recluse and the sin-dyed man of the world. Yet they get 
on wonderfully well. Euth's book, in its old-fashioned tree-calf 
binding, has slipped from the silken coverlet at her knee to the 
carpet. Lyndhurst picks it up, glances at the title as he returns 
it, and begins to talk about the learned Jeremy, whose pages he 
knows as well as those of Balzac or Dumas fils, Feydeau or Flau- 
bert, Heine, or Spielhagen. A great reader Mr. Lyndhurst, in 
those midday hours which he gives to the repose of his body, 
and in the small hours sometimes, when he has made the idle 
experiment of going to bed soon after midnight. He has a shelf 
of his favourite books and a reading-lamp at the head of his bed, 
and takes down a volume of Heine or De Musset and reads him- 
self into dreamland, when a man less careful of his own well- 
being would take a dose of chloral. 

Mr. Lyndhurst sips his orange pekoe with an air of quiet en- 
joyment that bespeaks a placid soul refreshed by this pure and 
gentle society. It is strange how much he relishes the novelty 
of the situation. Mephistopheles drinking tea with Margaret 
and her mother could not be more out of place, could not carry 
the situation with a more consummate tact. After tea he goes 
to the harmonium at Editha's request, and plays Beethoven's 
Symphony in C minor, and then the " Eroica," and after that the 
" Pastorale." His listeners cannot have too much of that magni- 
ficent music. The harmonium peals out full organ notes, ripe 
and round, and fills the room with melody — melody which over- 
flows into the corridor, where the Squire hears it on his way to 
that study or den where he reads the Field and the Observer, 
writes his letters, takes his afternoon nap, and occasionally goes 
into the mystery of accounts with his bailiff. 

He looks in at the door, asking, " Who have you got there, 
Buth ? " and thereupon renews his acquaintance with Hamilton 

" I thought there was too much noise for our little organist," 
says Mr. Morcombe blandly. "And so you have come down to 
try our sulphur or saline. Wonderful good they do you Lon- 
doners, I believe. Which are you taking — saline or sulphur? " 

This is one of the conventional inquiries at Llandrysak. Mr. 
Lyndhurst looks embarrassed. 

" My medical man advised sulphur," he replies, with a lurking 
sparkle in those dark eyes of his, " perhaps on the doctrine of 

" You must stop and dine with us of course. How did you 
come over ? " 

" I rode." 

Hostages to Fortune. 235 

"And you've put up your horse at the village inn? Why 
didn't you bring him here ? He'd have been better taken care of." 

" No doubt. The village stable is certainly rather primitive, 
but I saw the corn put into his manger, and left him happy. 1 
shall be too delighted to stop if I am not in the way." 

" In the way ! We live so far out of the way that a visit 
from an intelligent stranger is the greatest luxury we can enjoy. 
How about this Ministry now ? Will Gladstone bring in his bill 
next session, or retire upon his defeat, eh ? " And the Squire begins 
to talk politics lustily, and speedily carries off his guest to see 
the gardens and the home-farm, but not before Lyndhurst has 
promised to return to Ruth's room after dinner, and play Mozart 
or Mendelssohn. He contrives to make himself agreeable to 
the Squire during that inspection of the premises : surveys the 
stables, which are Mr. Morcombe's especial pride, inspects all the 
horses, and pronounces on their various merits with an acumen 
which establishes him in their owner's good graces. No man can 
make a stronger or better impression in a given time than 
Hamilton Lyndhurst. 

Mr. Petherick dines with them, and after dinner they all go 
up to Ruth's room to take their coffee and hear Mr. Lyndhurst 
play. It is quite a pleasant evening : the softly-lighted room ; 
the two women, one a pale and fragile copy of the other's 
beauty, or say, rather, one a drawing in crayons, the other a 
painting in oils ; the quaint old furniture and china harmoniously 
arranged, nothing crowded or ill assorted — make altogether a 
charming picture. It is ages since Hamilton Lyndhurst has felt 
himself the inmate of a home ; and this is home ; curiously dif- 
ferent from the houses he visits in London, which have the air 
of being public places of entertainment, minus the moneytaker 
at the doors, and sometimes minus the amusement. 

He leaves regretfully at the stroke of ten, and rides away in 
the clear summer moonlight, feeling as if he had been in Para- 
dise. Unhappily the rose-hued light of an earthly Eden is too 
mild a fire to purify a sin-steeped soul like his, and he rides back 
to Llandrysak calmly meditative of evil, the solemn hills looking 
down at him, distant worlds shining upon him, the mystery of 
the universe around and about him, and affecting him no more 
deeply than it does the field-mouse, whose sharp beady eyes 
look warily out of its hole under the hedge yonder. 

236 Hostages to Fortune. 


" No settled senses of the world can match 
The pleasure of that madness." 

Mb. Lyndhurst's groom rides over to Lochwithian before break- 
fast next morning, and Editha finds the first number of the 
Cl vnoisseur beside her plate on the breakfast-table, packed in an 
officiti'Uooking vellum envelope, and sealed with Lyndhurst's 
monogram. He pretends to no ancient lineage, confesses frankly 
that his grandfather sold oranges in Houndsditch, and is above 
the petty pride of a purchased coat-of-arms. 

Editha opens the packet with eager hands. The Connoisseur 
is a journal of gentlemanly aspect, printed on thick creamy - 
hued paper, in fair readable type, largely spaced, and with 
wide columns. Chic is the predominant characteristic of the new 
periodical. It abuses roundly, is outspoken, insolent even, but 
not snobbish or petty. It has a good-natured arrogance, a 
soldierly freedom of speech, and that delightful modern scepti- 
cism which may fairly be called unbelief in everything. 

Editha turns with a glowing cheek to the poem ANArKH, 
which occupies a place of honour in the middle of the paper ; 
but that blush of wifely pride pales as sbe reads, and before she 
has finished the poem, she rises from the table to hide the tears 
of wounded feeling. 

The verses are the complaint of a soul ill at ease ; weariness, 
disappointment, unbelief, are expressed in every line. No happy 
husband, no Christian gentleman, could have thought these 
thoughts or written these words, Mrs. Westray tells herself. 
They are verses eminently calculated to take the town ; for they 
breathe just that spirit of disappointment in the past and 
indifference about the future which is the dominant note of town 

Editha looks at the signature through blinding tears. Yes, it 
is his name ; he boldly signs this confession of no-faith. She 
has been his wife two years, and yet knows him so little that 
these verses come upon her like a revelation. Her love, her 
devotion, her unwearied thoughts of him and care for him, have 
been unsufficing for his happiness. He writes of himself as a 
disappointed man ; a man for whom life and love have alike 
been failures. He writes of Fate and man's future like an 

Could she but know exactly the truth about this unlucky little 

Hostages to Fortune. 237 

poem, which has cost her bitter tears, and brought her husband 
a handsome cheque, she would know that the verses were dashed 
off after a disagreeable interview with Mr. Standish the publisher, 
in which that gentleman complained of the result of Herman's 
last novel, and offered two hundred and fifty less for his next ; 
she would know that Herman's spirit had been furthermore dis- 
turbed lay a slashing criticism of his last play in the Censor, where 
In 1 found himself stigmatised as the latest pervertor of dramatic 
taste and poisoner of public morals, to say nothing of being con- 
demned as an ignoramus, unacquainted with his own language, 
and unprovided with a dictionary. 

Thus lashed to fury, his Muse had raised her crest somewhere 
in the small hours, shaken her tresses savagely, like another 
Medusa, and hit out against Fate ; Fate meaning at this moment 
a decline of two hundred and fifty pounds in the market price 
of a three-volume novel and the small carpings of an anonymous 

Unhappily Editha takes the matter in sober seriousness, weighs 
every word, ponders every latent meaning, and is miserable. She 
locks up the paper as if it were a guilty secret. Not for worlds 
would she have those dreadful verses read by Euth. She writes 
to her husband in the hour between breakfast and church time ; 
a long piteous letter, telling him how shocked and grieved she 
has been by sentiments which seem to her like a new language 
from his pen, asking him about the Day Star's offer, and if he 
had ever been so cruel as to think for one moment of going to 
the scene of war ; and finally imploring him to come down to 
Lochwithian, if it were only for a few days' rest for himself, or 
for that much lesser reason — only to make her happy. 

" You thought very little of coming backwards and forwards 
when we were engaged," she adds, with gentle reproachfulness. 
" Have I less claim upon you now I am your wife, and when our 
child is just old enough to ask in his baby-language why you are 
not here ? " 

She is not a little surprised to see Mr. Lyndhurst stroll into 
the garden an hour after luncheon on this summer Sunday. She 
is carrying her boy round to look at the roses, which he examines 
critically with big round blue eyes, and sniffs daintily with a 
small " tip-tilted " nose. She had not heard the Squire's hospit- 
able invitation to his new acquaintance last night, and had no 
idea that Mr. Lyndhurst was to eat his Sabbath dinner at the 

" I hope you won't think me a tremendous nuisance, Mrs. 
Westray," he says apologetically. " Your father was good enough 
to ask me to drive over this afternoon, and I could not refuse 

238 Hostages to Fortune. 

such a tempting offer. Llandrysak on Sunday is the abomina- 
tion of desolation. The bell of the little Anglican church sounds 
like the stroke of a toasting-fork upon a frying-pan ; the Inde- 
pendent chapel tinkles and jangles all the morning. The 
Independents begin to howl hymns at ten ; the Anglicans intone 
at half-past. You can hear both melodious sounds far away 
across the common in the silence of the place. When Slingsby 
Edwards has finished his sermon, his flock troops off to the 
Anglicans to make a finish. Shows a mind unfettered by sec- 
tarianism, doesn't it ? " 

Editha's grave looks reprove this jesting with sacred things ; 
so Mr. Lyndhurst turns his attention to the baby. Praise a 
woman's child, or horse, or dog, and you find the surest short cut 
to her favour. The child inclines to Hamilton at once, as four- 
footed animals incline to him, perhaps because he is big, powerful, 
and debonnaire, and has a surface benignity which attracts un- 
reasoning creatures. 

The Squire appears presently, returning from his farm, in a 
straw hat, and with a Sunday-afternoon listlessness of gait and 
manner ; and they all wander about the gardens, and down 
through the orchard to the ruins, Mr. Lyndhurst carrying the 
baby on his shoulder, and feeling himself quite a domestic 
character. They dawdle about, looking at the rugged old stone 
walls, threaded with pale spleenwert and gray mosses, and 
speculating upon the plan of nave and aisles, transept and apse, 
sacristy and lady chapel. They stroll down to the river — that 
placid trout stream which was wont to flow through the Priory 
'kitchen. There bloom the forget-me-nots, which Herman and 
Editha plucked together three years ago in the untroubled 
morning of their love. How well she remembers that day and 
the new dreams it brought her, the faint vague hopes which she 
tried to shut out of her mind, fearing a new influence which 
might come between her and Kuth ! Now, Ruth is only second 
in her life, tenderly beloved still, but never again the first. 

" I might have been happier if I had been true to Kuth," she 
thinks sadly, as her father and Mr. Lyndhurst stroll on a little in 
advance of her, talking politics, the baby deliciously content 
with his lofty perch, looking down at his mother as she slowly 
follows, full of thought. 

If she had been true to Euth, if she had made up her mind at 
once and for ever to remain unmarried for love of Ruth, how much 
care, how many a pain she might have missed ! It would have been 
a hard thing to refuse that ardent lover, a hard thing to reject the 
sweet responsibility of wifehood ; but once the sacrifice made, how 
easy all the rest of life ! How simple, how single her duty as 

Hostages to Fortune. "239 

"Ruth's nurse and consoler! how complicated, how difficult as 
Herman's wife! He lias committed to her the custody of his 
days, the guardianship of his fame ; and how little she has done 
for either ! She has trebled the cost of his existence, and has 
not succeeded in making his home happy, since he goes else- 
where in search of amusement. Upon his art she has exercised 
n6 influence whatever, since the last page he has published proves 
that in thought and opinion they two, husband and wife, are 
wide as the poles asunder. Her reverence for things that are 
holy, her deep and fervent faith, have had no more effect upon 
his way of looking at life than if he had spent the last two years 
of his existence among South-Sea Islanders. 

They dine at six, and when the Squire and his guest return to 
the drawing-room after dinner, Editha has gone to church ; 
whereby Mr. Lyndhurst finds the next two hours hang somewhat 
heavily on hand. Mr. Morcombe has shown him the stables and 
the home-farm. He has seen the ruins — the garden. There is 
really nothing more for him to see at Lochwithian, except the 
inexhaustible hills. The Squire's conversation waxes monotonous. 
They go out into the garden, and smoke their cigars amidst the 
odours of roses and honeysuckle. Lyndhurst looks at the church- 
window, whence shines the faint gleam of the pulpit-candles, 
and wonders how much longer the service is to last. Anon 
comes the sound of the organ, village voices singing an evening 
hymn, and then the little congregation comes slowly out of the 
gray gothic porch, and presently Mr. Lyndhurst hears the click 
of the garden-gate, which announces Editha's return. She must 
pass them on her way to the house. 

" Good-night, papa," she says. " I am going to Kuth's room, 
and I don't think I shall come downstairs again unless you want 
me. Good-night, Mr. Lyndhurst." 

" Out of sorts, pet ? " asks the Squire, scrutinising her after 
his good-night kiss. " You are looking pale. No bad news from 
Westray, is there ? " 

" Xo, papa ; I've a headache, that's all." 

" Thunder in the air, no doubt. Good-night, dear ; go and 

And so, after a friendly good-night to Mr. Lyndhurst, Editha 
leaves them, and the Squire and his guest go down to the gate 
to waylay Parson Petherick, who comes in to smoke a cigar with 
them after his day's long labour. 

That unhappy look of Editha's haunts Hamilton Lyndhurst as 
he drives back to Llandrysak. 

" She has begun to doubt him," he thinks. " That sceptical 
prem has made her miserable. If she is so wretched because he 

240 Hostages to Fortune. 

has shown himself something less holy than the saint she has 
made him, what will she suffer when she knows more ? When 
she knows that the moth has flown back to the flame that lured 
him years ago, and that his wings are singed by the old fire ? " 


" For men at most differ as Heaven and earth, 
But women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell." 

Tuesday morning brings Herman's answer to his wife's letter. 
It is brief, but in some measure reassuring. He makes light of 
her anxieties ; he ridicules her fears. 

" First, as for the Day Star, dearest," he writes, after a few 
affectionate commonplaces, " such an offer as you speak of has been 
made, and is, I freely confess, a tempting offer. So complete a 
change of scene, the life and movement of the thing, would, I 
believe, refresh and stimulate me. I have been growing dismally 
stagnant of late, and find, as you have yourself observed, the ink 
flow less freely from my pen than of old. But, inviting as the 
opportunity is, I feel that, as a family man, I am bound to forego 
it, and you never would have heard a syllable about it from me. 
It was rather officious of Lyndhurst to mention the affair ; but 
these idle men are such inveterate gossips. Be content, dear ; I 
sit in my den at Fulham like a spider in his hole, and spin copy, 
with an occasional feeling that I am spinning it, like the spider, 
out of my own internal economy. 

" I am sorry you disapprove of the verses. They were struck 
off in the heat of the moment, and mean very little except that 
I was tired and depressed when I wrote them. Be happy, 
dearest ; enjoy the simple pleasures of Lochwithian, and come 
back to me by and by blooming and beautiful as when first I saw 
your face shining upon me under Dewrance's umbrella at the 

" The horses are well ; the house has a dusty look in your ab- 
sence, and there is more noise of a hilarious kind in the kitchen 
of an evening than I quite like. Kiss our pet with a hundred 
superfluous kisses for me. — Your ever-loving husband, 

" Herman." 

She is comforted by this letter, vague as its assurances are. 

Hostages to Fortune. 211 

Poor fellow, lie owns to a passing weariness of his art. If In 
would but give himself rest — surrender his expensive house and 
servants, sell carriages and horses, ami come down here, where 
they might live so cheaply ! Editlia explores an empty house in 
her walk that morning, and longs to furnish it for herself and 
Herman. It is a rustic dwelling, on the slope of one of the great 
green hills that look down upon the old Priory — a roomy, com- 
fortable cottage, built by Mr. Petherick's predecessor, and lately 
occupied by a retired naval man, who made garden and orchard 
the pride of his life. This old post-captain has been dead some 
months, and his cherished garden has been neglected while the 
house has been waiting for a new tenant. It lies a little off the 
high-road, and is at present eight miles from a railway station ; 
but the view from its windows is one of the finest in this part of 
the country, and the air is purest ether. A year hence there will 
be a loop line to Lochwithian, and this aerie amidst the hills will 
be so much more accessible. 

Editha wanders in and out of the empty rooms, while the baby 
and his nurse sit on the lawn plucking daisies among the long 
grass. She finds a lovely room at the side of the house, with a 
French window and balcony overhanging the valley, a waterfall 
babbling below, and rough crag and pinewood towering above. 
Such a study for a poet ! Here, surely, inspiration would come 
as it never could in fiat sluggish Fulham. Above there are two 
airy rooms, which would make the most delightful nurseries for 
baby. There are just rooms enough for comfort, none to spare 
for show — a snug little dining-room, suggestive of a partie 
carree at most ; a rustic drawing-room, with a big bow-window. 

"How happily we might live here," muses Editha, "wasting 
no money upon dinner-giving or display ! We could manage 
with one servant even, and I could help to keep the house nice. 
What pleasure it would be to me to work for Herman — to be 
really useful to him, instead of being only an occasion of expense 
as I am now ! And how delightful to live close to Ruth and 
papa ! We could go to London sometimes, of course — for Her- 
man to superintend the production of his plays, for instance — 
but I cannot think that it is necessary for an imaginative writer 
to live in London." 

The days slip smoothly, gently by at Lochwithian — not alto- 
gether happy, for the wife's heart is full of cares for her absent 
husband, but brightened by many household joys. To be with 
Euth, to see her child happy, to meet old friends again, and go 
back to the sweetness of youth — all this should be enough for 
happiness, Editha thinks ; but her heart yearns for the day when 
she can reasonably go back to Fulham. 

242 Hostages to Fortune. 

Herman's letters all entreat her to stay — to make the most of 
home joys, her beloved hills, her old pensioners, and not to hurry 
back to the murky suburb, which has a dusty shabby look now 
the freshness of summer has worn off, Herman tells her. 

Hamilton Lyndhurst comes over to Lochwithian two or three 
times a week, and joins the Squire and his daughter in their rides 
and drives, contriving to render himself agreeable to both. He 
cultivates his acquaintance with Euth, and brightens many an 
hour for the invalid with his music. In this fortnight of his life 
he enjoys more domestic happiness than he has known in all his 
previous existence. The freshness of the sensation makes it 
strangely sweet to him. This equable life, flowing gently on, 
without pleasures, without excitements, is something utterly new 
to him. 

The fortnight hurries by like a dream, as it seems to Mr. Lynd- 
hurst, and yet it is the longest fortnight in his life to look back 
upon — a complete existence in miniature. 

" My mind has taken root here," he tells Euth, when he paj r s 
his farewell visit. .."I feel as if I were a native of these hills, 
instead of the miserable Cockney I am. I shall fancy myself all 
adrift again when I return to stony Babylon." 

To stony Babylon he does return, timing his departure cleverly 
— just two days before Editha's. This looks well, and gives an 
accidental air to his presence in the neighbourhood of Loch- 
withian. A less-practised schemer would have lingered to the 
last, and would have managed to be Editha's escort on the home- 
ward journey. Lyndhurst departs without having awakened 
anybody's suspicions as to the purity of his intentions — unless, 
indeed, there lurks some shadow of distrust in the pastor's honest 

" I don't quite like that fellow," says Mr. Petherick, when the 
Squire has been praising his departed guest. " He is too smooth. 
Velvet paws always remind me of cats. He made himself so 
abominably agreeable to us all ; and yet he seemed a fish out of 
water, somehow, in spite of his easy manner and his air of frank 
enjoyment. He is not the type of man to be so delighted with 
our countrified pleasures. Nature and he don't harmonise. 
"What kind of person is he in town, Editha ? " 

Mrs. Westray smiles at the question. 

" I think he is very much the same man you have seen here — 
not quite so frank or genial, perhaps. But Herman's friends are 
always talking criticism, and a man like Mr. Lyndhurst says ill- 
natured things for the sake of being witty. He takes life very 
easily, and seems to have no particular purpose in his existence. 
People call him Midas, and say that all he touches turns to gold ; 

Hostages to Fortune. 243 

but. I doubt if he has much enjoyment of his wealth. He always 
has rather a tired air, as if he had tried all the pleasures of life 
and found them vanity. I never saw him seem so near happiness 
as he has seemed to be here." 

." Humph ! " mutters Mr. Petherick, " that's rather odd, isn't 
it ? Buttercups and daisies would seem scarcely the fare for 
that kind of man — unless he had some motive for liking the. 
buttercups and daisies. Perhaps it's the novelty that pleases 
him. I shouldn't wonder if Nebuchadnezzar enjoyed the grass 
of the field after the barbaric splendour of his palace. However, 
I must confess your Mr. Lyndhurst is a problem I can't solve. 
Does your husband like him ? " 

" Very much. He is one of our most frequent guests." 

At last the day comes for Editha's return. She has been at 
the Priory nearly a month, and her presence has done wonders 
for Ruth — has improved her so much, that Editha forgets the 
fears which were aroused by her sister's altered looks on her 
arrival. The sisters spend their last evening together alone, in 
confidential talk. 

" Darling, I look forward to the delight of coming down here 
to live some day," Editha says. " I know that Herman is tired 
of London, though I cannot induce him to believe that he is. 
All his pleasures are monotonous, and the life he leads in town 
is wearing him out. I see it too plainly. We are living expen- 
sively, and his brain is being exhausted by the effort to keep 
pace with our expenditure. If I could persuade him to do with- 
out the society of a few people who amuse him, the rest would 
be easy. He is by nature a student, and I know that he could 
be as happy as the day is long in Captain Fitzgerald's cottage." 

" He has your health and happiness to consider as well as his 
own," replies Ruth ; " and I know how much better you and 
baby would be in this clear air. I don't think the Fulham air 
suits you, dear. You were looking ill and worried when you 

" I had been anxious about Herman." 

They talk hopefully of the happy life they might lead if Her- 
man would but consent to forsake clubs and parties, and be satis- 
fied with a bucolic or meditative existence, remote from the stir 
and thrill of crowds. Fair dream of a future which is perchance 
impossible ! It serves to make the sisters happy on this their 
last evening. 

Editha departs at noonday on a blazing Saturday towards the 
end of August, accompanied by nurse and baby, trunks, baskets, 
rugs, umbrellas, a basket of ferns for her garden, and a huge 
hamper of country produce — quite a train of heavy luggage, 

244 Hostages to Fortune. 

which occupies one end of the little platform at Llandrysak, and 
throws the two Welsh porters into convulsions of excitement 
and bathes them in perspiration. Betsy Evans, the new cook, is 
to follow her mistress in a few days, when Mrs. Files has been 
disposed of. 

The Squire and the Parson are both in attendance, and Mrs. 
Gredby has descended from her fastness to offer tribute, in the 
shape of a large fan-shaped nosegay, fragrant with southern- 
wood and clove carnations, and banked up with hollyhocks, which 
floral stack she calls a " bokay." 

" I should like you to have something to remember me by 
when you get home, Miss Editha,' she says, " and the little gen- 
tleman likewise, so I've made so bold as to bring you a pair of 

" Mrs. Gredby, the flowers would have been enough," re- 
monstrates Editha, as the landlady of the New Inn withdraws 
the corner of a white cloth from her basket, and displays two 
innocent yellow beaks hanging pathetically over the wicker- 

" No, Miss Editha ; flowers is very well, but you put 'em in a 
jug on your drawing-room table, and you think no more of 'em. 
They pass clean out of your mind ; but if you make your dinner 
off a fine pair of ducks, you don't forget them. Their very rich- 
ness makes an impression. There's nothing hangs about you 
like roast ducks. You allude to them afterwards, and say, 
' The day we had Mrs. Gredby's ducks.' They're something to . 
look back upon, you see, miss." 

" I shall remember your kindness in any case, dear Mrs. 
Gredby," says Editha, smiling. 

" Yes, miss, and you'll remember them ducks, and so will your 
good gentleman. There hasn't been a finer couple killed this 
year, not within forty mile. I reared 'em myself, so I ought to 
know — besides feeding of 'em out of my own mouth when they 
was weakly." 

Mrs. Gredby expatiates on the baby — a chubby, rosy-cheeked 
young gentleman, in a white pelisse and small sailor-hat ; and 
anon comes the train of some half-dozen carriages, which is to 
convey Editha to Shrewsbury. She has books and papers to 
read, she has a basket of Lochwithian peaches, and, best of all, 
she has baby; so the journey can hardly be tedious, thinks the 
Squire, as he kisses her and bids her God-speed. 

The journey does seem toher somewhat tedious, in spite of 
books and baby. Once away from Lochwithian, her ardent 
desire to be home makes her restless and impatient — inwardly 
impatient only, for in outward seeming she is all gentleness 

jiosutrjcs lo Fortune. 245 

and repose. S!ic is not given to shifting her burden of weariness 
upon other people's shoulders. 

It is nearly a week since she has heard from Herman, and that 
fact is sufficient to fill her with uneasiness. She feels that she 
has been too long absent from home and duty — feels herself a 
neglectful wife, although she has been only obeying Herman in 
prolonging her stay at the Priory. How she longs to be with 
him — to look in his face, to see if he has still that worn worried 
look which made her wretched before she left home ! How she 
longs to be sitting opposite him in the dear little study, pouring 
out that strong green tea which is his nectar, and listening to 
his literary plans ! Between her and this delight there are only 
so many miles, so many hours ; but her impatience grows as the 
miles and hours lessen. 

There is a delay of two hours at Shrewsbury, and it is evening 
— a breathless evening, with a gray thunderous sky — when the 
train enters the terminus. Editha has written to announce her 
coming, and expects to be met at the station by Herman after 
this her first absence. She scans the faces on the platform 
eagerly as the train moves past them, but cannot see that one 
face, with its bright recognising look, as she has been picturing 
it to herself throughout the journey. 

He is there, no doubt, she tells herself, though not in the outer 
edge of the crowd. She alights hastily, and hardly stops to see 
that nurse and baby make their descent safely, so eager is she to 
find Herman. 

"Lor, mum, you've forgot your travelling-bag," says the nurse, 
plunging back into the carriage, where that treasure of feminine 
necessities has been left in the rack. 

Editha cannot think of travellingbags. She is looking for 
Herman ; but among all those hard-faced strangers his dear face 
appears not. The blankness sends a pang through her heart. 

" Hadn't we better get a cab, mum ? " says the nurse. 

" Yes, Jane. I thought Mr. Westray would have been here to 
meet me." 

" And I should have thought so too, mum ; such a lot of luggage 
as we've got, and baby getting so sleepy, poor lamb." 

The " poor lamb" is decidedly fractious. The heat, the dust, 
the long journey have tried his youthful temper. Jane struggles 
with the double burden of infant and travelling-bag. She has 
the basket with Mrs. Gredby's ducks over her arm. " Porter ! " 
she screams, in a shrill, complaining voice, seeing that Mrs. 
Westray stands helpless, like a suddenly-awakened sleep-walker. 

Porters come, and Mrs. Westray's luggage is selected from a 
mountain of trunks, portmanteaus, tin baths, japanned bonnet- 



Hostages to' fortune 

boxes and hampers, and then it is stacked upon a rickety-looking 
cab, and Editha, with one despairing look along the platform, 
takes her place in the vehicle. 

It is a long drive to Fulham — a dreary one after that disap- 
pointment. How dull and murky London looks after the dewy 
freshness, the heavenward-mounting hills of Lochwithian — a 
hateful place to return to, assuredly, even though it means home ! 
The long dusty road, the endless procession of shabby suburban 
villas, dust-whitened trees, cabs, straw, ra^s, and rubbish on the 
dusty pavements, sordid shops, ragged-looking omnibuses, every- 
thing ugly and poverty-stricken. 

"Why was he not at the station to meet me ?" That is the 
question which Mrs. Westray asks herself more or less through- 
out that long jolting journey. At the least it looks unkind. He 
is dining out, perhaps, at some social club-dinner ; or has gone to 
see a new play produced at one of the theatres — the work of a rival. 

" If he had only written to tell me that he would be engaged 
this evening, 1 should have been spared the disappointment/' 
thinks Editha, and then reproaches herself for feeling wounded 
by this seeming neglect. 

'' No doubt he has some good reason," she tells herself. " He 
was too busy to come perhaps, and I shall find him at home, at 
work, and expecting me — in his old velvet coat, with books 
thrown about in every direction, and the tea-tray among his 
papers. Or if he has been obliged to go out, there will be a note 
to tell me why, and in an hour or two he will be back. I shall 
just have time to change my dusty clothes and see baby put to 
bed before he comes." 

Thus does Editha sprinkle cool patience upon her wounded 
spirit, and when at last the cab blunders into shabby old Fulham, 
whose High-street has a look of having been forgotten and left 
behind by the march of progress, she is prepared to accept 
things pleasantly, however they may fall out, and to give her 
husband loving greeting, even though he should have gone out 
to dine on this particular Saturday, and not gladden her eyes till 
between eleven and twelve o'clock. She will say like Desde- 
mona, " Men are not gods," and will be content with something 
less than " such observancy as fits the bridal." 

They have turned into the little lane that leads to Bridge-end 
House. Everything has the same dull and dusty look. The 
gray sky darkens with declining day. Putney-church clock 
strikes eight with a dismal clang. Nature wears no smile of 
welcome. The slate-coloured river frowns. The study blind is 
down. The cabman rings three times before the door is opened. 

At last the parlour-maid appears, capless and slatternly. She 
pomes slowly to the gate, opens it, and begins with a languid air 

j.j.uai.ujKs io noriune. 247 

to assist in carrying in the luggage. She brightens a little at sight 
oil the ducks and the hamper. 

"Is Mr. Westray at home?" asks Editha, very sure that he 
is not, since he has not appeared to greet her. 

" At home, mum ? no, mum. Didn't you get his letter? " 

"What letter?" 

" Telling you that he was going away, mum." 

" Going away — where ? lias he gone away ? " 

" Yes, mum. He went off to France yesterday afternoon quite 
suddent. He wrote you a letter, mum, astin' you to stay with 
your par while he was away, and he told cook and me not to 
expect you for the next three weeks. But I'm afraid Selina 
must have posted the letter too late." 

" I had no letter," replies Editha, bearing up against this blow 
with heroic effort. How cruel, how heartless of him to leave 
her thus ! What temptation that fame or gain can hold out 
should weigh against the anguish she feels at this desertion ? 
He has left her — heedless of her fears — left her to enter scenes 
of danger, left her perhaps to die. " Lor, mum, how white you 
do look ! " says Mary Ann, the parlour-maid, who is not without 
compassionate feeling even for that natural enemy, a mistress. 
"Master said he shouldn't be away much above three weeks, and 
the change would do him good. He was looking ill and tired, 
cook and me noticed. But of course, being out so late of even- 
ings would make a difference." 

" He was out often," falters Editha, hardly knowing what she 
Bays. 0, bitter agony of disappointed hope ! She feels as if life 
could never seem fair again. 

"Well, yes, 'um. Pretty well every evening. It was dull 
and lonesome, you see, for him at home. Houses by the river is 
lonesome, except in the spring, when the laylocks and laburniums 
is in blow. And the blackbeadles was dreadful in the 'ot 
weather, that bold you'd meet 'em at every turn. I don't 
wonder master didn't care for his 'ome." 

Happily there is baby to be thought of. His fractiousness in- 
creases when he discovers that no preparations have been made 
for his reception ; that the mattresses have to be dragged out of 
his cot and aired at a hastily-lighted fire, and that his nursery 
smells unpleasantly of mottled soap. 

Cook has gone to pass the evening with her relations. The 
two young women bustle about, and get tea and a rasher for 
Mrs. Westray, and light the lamp in the study. 

Here Editha takes her lonely meal, when baby had been cared 
for and made comfortable. The room is just as Herman left it, 
and speaks to her of him ; books piled on the floor, the chairs, 
the table ; papers scattered everywhere. His pipes, his tobacco- 

248 Hostages to Fortune. 

jars on table and mantelshelf. There was a time when he was 
less disorderly. These careless habits tell of a weary mind. 

Hardest of all does it seem to have missed his farewell letter. 
Posted too late for yesterday's mail, it will only reach Loch- 
withian to-morrow morning, and cannot return to Fulham until 
Monday. All the blank desolate Sunday must intervene before 
Editha can have his letter, and know his reasons for breaking a 
promise that should have been held sacred. He assured her, 
when he laughed at her fears, that he had no idea of accepting 
the Day Star's offer, and in the face of that assurance — which 
to her seemed a promise — he is gone. She sends for an evening 
paper, and tries to make out how things are going on at the 
seat of war. "Our special correspondent" writes of deadly 
strife and desolated villages in the coolest and airiest manner ; 
but his letter seems all confusion somehow to Editha. Krupp 
guns, mitrailleuses, skirmishes here, sorties there, the prospect of 
an engagement before long ; French generals, princes of Hohen- 
zollern behaving in the noblest and most gentlemanlike manner, 
and the general public being annihilated upon scientific prin- 
ciples. Shells, shrapnell, and explosives of all kinds flying about 
in every direction, even on one's paper as one writes, the corre- 
spondent insinuates. To-morrow, and Herman will have reached 
that horrid scene, and the Krupp guns, the mitrailleuses, the grape 
and shrapnell will be scattering destruction around his sacred head. 

Editha would give anything to see some one who has seen 
her husband lately — one of his friends, who could tell her, in the 
absence of his letter, what urged his sudden departure. There 
is Mrs. Brandreth, for instance ; she would be sure to know. 

" I will call upon her after church to-morrow," decides Editha. 
She has never before had her carriage out on a Sunday, but on 
this occasion she orders the brougham for three o'clock. She has 
a feeling that Mrs. Brandreth is a person she can only visit in state. 

It is not quite pleasant to her to call upon Myra, for though 
she has never acknowledged the fact even to herself, there is a 
faint dislike or distrust of that accomplished woman in her mind. 
But she cannot call upon her husband's bachelor friends — those 
happy-go-lucky artists or literary men in Thistle-grove or South 
Kensington — and she is very anxious to see some one who has 
seen Herman just before his departure ; so she vanquishes that un- 
defined feeling of reluctance, and drives to Kensington Gore. 

She has been careful to put on her most becoming dress, her 
prettiest bonnet. Her gloves are fresh ; every detail of her toilette 
perfect. There is nothing of the forsaken Ariadne about her. 

This happens to be her first visit to the house in Kensington 
Gore. She has been asked often, but to Sunday dinners and 
Sunday musical evenings — symposia she disapproves. 

Hostages to Fortune. 249 

Mrs. Brantlreth is at home ; indeed she rarely stirs outside 
her door on Sunday after ten-o'clock matins at a ritualistic 
temple in the neighbourhood. "A day upon which small trades- 
men drive their families about in tax-carts, and large tradesmen's 
daughters exhibit their fine clothes in Kensington-gardens, is a 
time for decent people to stay indoors," she remarks, when any 
one suggests a Sabbath airing. 

Mis. Westray is taken up to the drawing-room — a room that 
has a cheerful glow winter or summer. The curtains and chair- 
covers are of a rich amber, the carpet deep brown shaded to 
palest yellow. These amber tones set off the ebony furniture, 
the majolica vases and plateaus of turquoise blue, the water- 
coloured landscapes on the warm dove-coloured walls. 

Mrs. Brandreth is seated in the small inner room, among ferns 
and flowers which give a delicious coolness to the atmosphere. 
She is not alone. Lord Earlswood lolls upon one of the amber- 
satin chairs, turning the leaves of the Connoisseur languidly, as if 
he were looking vainly for some article within the limits of his 
capacity. He spends the greater part of his Sundays in attend- 
ance upon Myra. He has very little to say to her, and has no 
appearance of enjoying himself ; but he comes and he stays, 
and she finds that it is impossible to enjoy a Sunday without 
this infliction. 

Mrs. Brandreth receives Editha rapturously. Lord Earlswood 
abandons the Connoisseur, and shakes hands languidly, with a 
gentlemanlike melancholy, as a man too deeply afflicted by the 
burden of life to assume the mockery of smiles. 

"My dear Mrs. Westray, how good of you!" cries Myra. 
" What a pleasant surprise ! I thought you were to be in Wales 
for the next six weeks. Your husband told me so." 

Editha explains the tardily-posted letter. 

" And you came home and found him gone ! " exclaims Myra. 
" What a disappointment ! " 

" London so empty too," interjects Lord Earlswood ; " posi- 
tively disgusting. Met seven men between Pall Mall and 
Whitehall yesterday — I counted 'em. Four of them looked like 
government clerks, and the other three were parsons. One 
mieLt as well live in a howling wilderness." 

"it was a disappointment to find him gone," replies Editha 
gently, nay, almost cheerfully. She has not come here to wear 
the willow. " But if the change does Herman good I must not 
( : mriplain. There is no danger, I suppose ? " she adds anxiously, 
lnnkiiig at his lordship as the higher authority. 

'• U dear no, I think not," says Lord Earlswood. "Newspaper 
correspondents never get shot — not in Europe, you know. In 
China thev shoot alljaadsof .fellows— dinloma.t.ic pivil, anything 

250 Hostages to Fortune. 

you like. But I fancy these French and German beggars will 
respect the press. Wouldn't like to see themselves cut up in the 
Radical papers — papers that write about the Millennium, and 
universal peace, and the lion lying down with the what's-its- 
name, and that kind of thing." 

Editha takes what comfort she can from this speech, and turns 
to Myra. She has a great opinion of that lady's worldly wisdom, 
and though she has not been able to like her, respects her industry 
and cleverness. 

" Did you see Herman shortly before he left ? " she asks. 

" He dined here last Sunday ; but he had not then decided on 
accepting the Day Star people's offer, though I know it tempted 

" And he left on Friday. He must have decided very quickly 
at last." 

" A fellow told me that the Day Star doubled their terms," 
says Lord Earlswood, " and Westray couldn't withstand the 
filthy lucre." 

Editha blushes painfully. That expensive house-keeping is 
alone to blame for his need of money. 

" I do not think money had much to do with Mr. Westray's 
decision," says Myra. " I believe he wanted change of scene and 
occupation. He was tired and bored. I never saw him looking 
so ill. I was one among his friends who advised him to accept 
the newspaper people's offer. Anything was better than to see 
him grinding on at the same mill for ever." 

This stabs Editha to the heart. She grows a little paler than 
before, but gives no other token of her wound. Lord Earlswood 
rises and fidgets about the front drawing-room, only divided from 
the inner temple by amber curtains. He is seen through the 
draperied archway roaming listlessly, looking at the pictures, 
opening the show books, generally at a loss what to do with 

" Did you hear how long he was to be away ? " Editha asks. 

" Not definitely. I don't suppose he had any idea as .to time. 
It might be a question of weeks or of months." 

" If it is a question of months, I shall go to him," says Editha. 

" My dear Mrs. Westray, impossible ! A man moving about 
here and there, at the seat of war — how could he be burdened with 
a wife ? I can quite understand your anxiety, but you will see 
that in such a position he must be unfettered." 

"Yes,, I suppose so," Editha answers sadly. "I must be 
patient. Good-bye, Mrs. Brandreth. I thought you would be 
able to tell me more perhaps. But I shall get Herman's letter 

" You are not going to run away directly ? You must stay and 

Ilostaijcs to Fur tunc. 251 

dine with me. I have some charming people coming — an 
Italian poet and his wife — quite in a friendly way. Lord Earls- 
wood will stay perhaps, and Mr. Tollemy may drop in, but no 
one else. Do stop." 

"You are very kind ; but I am too anxious. I shall be happier 
at home with baby." 

Myra averts her face lest Mrs. Westray should see the scorn 
that curls her lip at this remark. Of all things weak in woman 
Mrs. Brandreth most despises baby-worship. 

" You won't be persuaded ? I'm so sorry. And you will go 
home and drink tea all the evening, and cry over baby, instead 
of making yourself happy here, as you might if you chose. 
That is the great difference between men and women. Women 
nurse their troubles and make much of them ; men thrust their 
worries out of doors, and keep them there until they're strong 
enough to climb in at the window." 

_ Mrs. Westray is not to be persuaded, and departs, feeling very 
little happier for her visit to Kensington Gore. 

"Poor thing," murmurs Myra languidly, as Lord Earlswood 
comes prowling through the curtained archway, like a mentally 
exhausted wild-beast, " how miserable she is ! " 

If other people's misfortunes, in a general way, are not with- 
out a flavour of sweetness to poor humanity, what wicked 
rapture must this woman feel as she gloats over the agony of that 
soul whose happiness she has envied, whose innocence and purity 
she has hated for two slow joyless years — slow, though they have 
been as a triumphal procession to the temple of fame ; joyless, 
though they have been filled to overflowing with what the world 
calls pleasure ! 

" Yes, she does seem cut up," replies Lord Earlswood, with a 
meditative air. " Rather unkind of Westray to go off like that." 

"I daresay he was thoroughly tired of his home, or he wouldn't 
have gone." 

" Tired of his home, and with such a pretty wife ! I thought 
it was a love-match." 

" Love-matches are bad wear when a man marries a fool." 

" Is she a fool, do you think ? I fancied she had a sensible 
look. I can't say I've ever heard her say anything clever. She 
doesn't burst into puns, and she isn't satirical, you know. But I 
should have given her credit for good sense. Looks as if she 
could make a pudding or sew on a button. Good style too. 
Carries her head well — doesn't want a bearing-rein. Well, I'll 
go and look in at Tattersall's, and then go and dress for dinner. 
1 hope these Italian people talk English." 


"Jolly clever of tl*w». ima fc . it ? T nover could manage modern 

252 Hostages to Fortum. 

languages. I suppose it's from being over-dosed with the Glassies 
when I was a boy." 

"And yet I seldom bear you indulge in Greek or Latin," 
remarks Myra, smiling. 

" No ; nothing so caddish as a fellow quoting Plato or Cicero. 
Only fit for a newspaper man or an Irish member. Au plaisir." 
And with this fragment of a modern language, Lord Earlswood 
departs, to loaf at the great horse-mart for the next hour or so, 
to smoke a cigar or two, drink a soda-and-brandy or two, yawn 
over the sporting weeklies, and at eight o'clock reappear in Mrs. 
Brandreth's drawing-room, faultlessly arrayed in evening dress 
of puritanical simplicity — no studs, no chain, no trinket — black 
and white, like a mourning letter. 

Believed of his lordship's unenlivening presence, Mrs. Brand- 
reth paces the larger drawing-room thoughtfully. Her ej^es 
shine with a wicked light. Her rival's misery is very sweet — • 
the wine of life — sweet almost as that cup which the same rival 
snatched from her lips. 

" Revenge is almost as good as love," she tells herself. 
She knows a good deal more about Herman than she has 
chosen to tell Herman's wife. She knows that he has left 
England because his affairs are in confusion, because lie is in 
desperate need of money, and that let him do his uttermost it 
will go hard with him to stave off ruin. She knows that the 
pretty house by the river is a perilous abode just now, and she 
means to make it more perilous if she can. Hatred so deep as 
hers is not to be satisfied by the temporary severance of husband 
and wife. She would see them parted for ever. And far away 
in the dim future, beyond their parting, Hope beckons boldly. 

" He has found out his mistake long ago," she tells herself. 
" He comes to me for counsel, he comes to me for amusement. 
That pretty piece of simplicity wearies him. He loved me first 
— loved me when his heart was young and fresh and ardent. He 
will love me last." 

A Pompadour mirror, framed in Sevres biscuit, stands before 
the open window in the full bright sunshine. She catches sight 
of her face in the glass. 0, cruel lines which passion and art have 
wrought there ! — art being with her a kind of spurious passion. 
That one glance at her own image in the searching sunlight re- 
minds her that she is no longer young. 

" But I am famous, and I am rich," she tells herself . " People 
say I am handsome still ; and in spite of those lines I am not 
thirty — not too old to be loved again, not too old to be happy." 
" Mr. Lyndhurst," announces the servant ; and if the spirit of 
darkness had been ushered into that amber drawing-room his 
arrival could not have seemed to Myra more appropriate. 

Hostages to Fortune. 253 

Tliey shake Lands with a cordial air — always on the best pos- 
sible terms, knowing each other so thoroughly, and respecting in 
earh other the highest modern development of the principle of evil. 

'■ Where have you been hiding yourself all this time? And 
how well you are looking ! " exclaims Myra in a breath. 

" I have been in Wales." 

" Indeed ! What part of Wales ? " 

" Within an hour's drive of Lochwithian Priory. My doctor 
recommended the Llandrysak waters as a wholesome tonic. Mrs. 
Westray 's father has been very civil, and I have enjoyed the 
sweets of domesticity under his respectable roof." 

'• You are a most extraordinary man." 

" Extraordinary because I go out of the beaten tracks in scroll 
of happiness ! I have trodden the dusty high roads in the 
morning of life, and have had enough of the dust and bustle and 
sunshine. Afternoon has come, and I prefer the shade of silent 
woods. I did not think it was in my nature to be as happy as I 
have been at Lochwithian." 

" What a pity there should be any impediment to your happi- 
ness assuming a permanent form ! These glimpses of Paradise 
must be trying to a man of your temperament," says Myra, with 
a sneer. " What do you think of Mr. Westray having run away 
from domestic felicity ? " 

" I heard of it last night at the Agora. Have you any idea as 
to his reasons for leaving England ? " 

•'I believe he owes more money than he finds it quite con- 
venient to pay, and has some idea of arranging matters with his 
creditors more easily from a distance. He said something to 
me about having raised money by a bill of sale on his furniture ; 
but he seemed to apprehend no immediate danger from that." 

Hamilton Lyndhurst smiles, a slow r , complacent smile. 

" Yes, I know something about that bill of sale," he says. 

" You don't mean that you — " 

"I know the people who hold it. A bad lot, rather. Foolish 
fellow, Westray, to put himself in the power of that kind of 
vermin. But your geniuses will hazard ruin in the future to 
escape trouble in the present. I think our friend Westray has 
pretty nearly drained his resources. He has had money in 
advance from his publisher, I know. Bather bad for poor Mrs. 
Westray if the bill of sale should be acted upon while he is away." 

" You mean that it would make her homeless ? " 

" Precisely." 

'• She would go back to her father." 

" Do you think so ? Now I believe she is just the woman 
whose pride would prevent her doing that. Those high-principled 
strong-minded women have the Dride of Lucifer. No, she has 

254 Hostages to Fortune. 

married for love, and will stand true to her colours through good 
or ill ; or else — " 

" Or else what ? " asks Myra, as he pauses meditatively. 

" Lose her head, and accept the first haven that offers." 


"Your beauty is no beauty to him now : 

A common chance — right well I know it — pall'd~"» 

For I know men : nor will you win him back, 

For the man's love once gone never returns. 

Why droops my Celia ? 

Thou hast, in place of a base husband, found 

A worthy lover ! " 

Monday morning brings the letter which has been travelling to 
and fro since Friday — not a long letter or an altogether satis- 
factory one, but a letter of explanation in some sort, written as 
if every word had been wrung out of the writer unwillingly. 

" You will blame me, dearest, I fear, for the step I am taking," 
writes Herman, after a simple announcement of his determina- 
tion ; " but I have reasons — reasons of a purely business nature 
— which render the act a wise one. First and foremost, I shall 
make more money in a few weeks than I could earn at home. 
Secondly, I find myself in actual need of change of scene and 
occupation. My pen flags, my work grows distasteful to me. 1 
want the revivifying influence of active life. 

" I am sorry to say we have not been doing so well this year as 
I could have wished. The house and stable have run away with 
more money than I have been able to earn, and we are deeper in 
debt than I was at all aware till I held a little review of matters 
the other day. However, we shall tide on somehow, no doubt. 
Mrs. Brandreth will remit you my share of her profits weekly 
while I am away ; and although the business is not particularly 
good at this time of year, there will be no doubt enough money 
to enable you to carry on the war in my absence. I do not know 
exactly when she means to -close the theatre, but I imagine the 
season will last some time longer. When I come back we will 
take council together and plan some kind of retrenchment. We 
might let our house furnished, and live abroad for a year or two. 
We can at any rate get rid of the carriage and horses, as you 
proposed. Of course good-natured friends will draw their own 
conclusions from our economy, and will sa}' that I have lost my 

Hostages to Fortune. 255 

lioiil upon the public, and that my last books have been failures. 
I must resign myself to this. After all, what the world says of 
a man never yet made his finger ache. But how many a heart- 
ache the slave of opinion gives himself ! 

" It will be wisest and in every way best for you to remain at 
the Priory while I am away, dearest. You will be safe there 
from all possibility of annoyance from importunate creditors, 
should any of mine take it into their heads to be importunate, 
which I do not anticipate. The Squire and Kuth will be delighted 
to have you, the little one will wax fat and strong, and you will 
be happy among your native hills and your faithful old 
pensioners, to say nothing of your dear Mr. Petherick ; while 
I shall be happy in knowing that your life is sheltered and serene. 
" You shall hear from me as often as possible, and the Day 
Star will give you a detailed account of my adventures. This 
struggle is more deadly, more appalling, than I can tell you. 
How small our petty troubles and money difficulties appear 
before the horrors of scientific warfare ! The might and glory 
of France, that nation which, a few years ago, seemed prosperous 
and invincible as Rome under Augustus — nay, seemed like a 
Colossus to bestride and overshadow Europe, are melting like 
snowflakes in the river, 

" A moment seen, then gone for ever. 
" God bless you, dear one, and remember that, near or far, ab- 
sent or present, I am ever your fond and faithful husband, 

" Herman Westray." 
There is comfort in the letter, for it breathes unchanged affec- 
tion, and that vague fear which has afflicted Editha in the last 
two days — the fear that she has suffered some lessening of her 
husband's love — is dispelled by his cordial tenderness. Money 
difficulties are light as thistledown in the faithful wife's mind. 
If their need of help were more desperate than she supposes it 
can be, papa and Ruth would help them. There is a home always 
for them at Lochwithian. Her own little income — in a worldly 
woman's estimation barely enough to pay the dressmaker — is a 
barrier between them and want. She will welcome poverty if it 
brings about a change in their mode of existence — obliges Her- 
man to dispense with clubs and evening parties, reconciles him 
perhaps to Welsh retirement : that pretty house and garden on 
the side of the hill, the waterfall sounding his evening lullaby, 
the skylark's glad carillon awakening him at morn. 

She answers her husband's letter lovingly, dutifully ; breathes 
n ot a word of reproach, dwells not upon her own griefs, or the sharp 
pang of disappointment whicji made her coming home so bitter. 

" I should have stayed at Lochwitliian had your letter reached 
me in time dpnr II«?rm«m,'A>*li«tr wtitas- after tendevest, erH rpnlii>s 

256 Hostages to Fortune. 

that he will be careful of his precious person, run no risk that 
can possibly be avoided, shun damp beds and shot and shell ; 
"but as I have returned I shall remain here, and see what I can 
do in my small way towards the lessening of our household ex- 
penses. I have given Files a month's wages and sent her about 
her business, for I have discovered that she is a most extravagant 
person, and has been cheating us systematically all along. She 
was quite indignant at having to go, and said she had worked 
like a galley-slave for us, and that she had never been treated 
with such ingratitude. It would be a warning to her never again 
to enter the service of low people who write books. Selina has 
told me an immense deal about her, which if true is most shock- 
ing, and it is a pity Selina had not the courage to tell me while 
Files was with us. Mary Ann I have also dispatched, as we can 
manage very well without a parlourmaid ; especially if we give 
fewer dinner-parties in future. The horses and carriages you 
will of course sell directly you come home. Believe me I shall 
not feel the loss of them. Nothing would delight me so much 
as to let our house and live near papa and Ruth for a year or two ; 
but if the idea of life among our hills is disagreeable to you, I 
should be quite resigned to living abroad ; indeed you know 
that I have travelled so little that a continental life would have 
all the charm of novelty for me. The narrowing of our circum- 
stances would not distress me in the least, dearest, did I not fear 
— no, I will be candid, and say did I not know — that my careless 
housekeeping has impoverished you. I have trusted too much 
to strange servants ; believing that they would be as honest as 
the dear good creatures who have lived half their lives at the 
Priory. Ruth has opened my eyes to my folly, and I mean to 
be a much better housekeeper in future. She has found me a good 
honest girl as cook, and I hope when you return you will find our 
expenditure considerably reduced." 

Thus cheerily, affectionately, dutifully, writes the wife, without 
one complaint of the loneliness which weighs very heavily upon 
her in these bright autumn days, when everyone — including the 
baker's wife and children and the butcher's small family — is 
deserting dusty Fulham for shingly beaches and fair stretches of 
golden sand upon the south-eastern coast, for Margate's crowded 
jetty, or Pegwell's shrimpy bay. Very long are the days at 
Bridge-end House, despite Mrs. Westray's endeavours to find 
respite and forgetfulness from her favourite authors in Herman's 
study, where she dusts every book, and arranges every nick-nack 
with loving care. Even that inexhaustible delight, the baby, 
palls upon her a little in these long days. There are moments 
when her spirits are not in tune with that glad young babbler, 
when she has not vitality enough to be a horse or an elephant, or 

Hostages to Fortune. 257 

a wolf, as the exigences of the game demand ; when she lacks 
even power to tell that elementary story of the boy who was 
naughty and rebelled against his nurse, or the boy who was good 
and was largely rewarded with sponge-cake. 

Thinking of Herman, fearing for Herman, wondering about 
Herman — these are the intellectual exercises which fill her empty 
days. She will not drive in the Park, for she has an uncom- 
fortable feeling that the carriage belongs rather to her husband's 
creditors than to herself, and that she has no right to the enjoy- 
ment of it ; she fancies that angry tradesmen may point at her 
as she passes by with her high-stepping horses, shining golden-bay 
in the autumn sunlight. Even the house accounts have fallen 
into arrear within the last few months. Weekly payments have 
been superseded by occasional cheques on account, and the 
result of this system is a heavy balance against Mr. Westray in 
the books of butcher and grocer, dairyman and baker ; to say 
nothing of the corn-merchant, who has been rather troublesome 
of late, and has called more than once to inquire when Mr. West- 
ray will be home. 

On the last of these visits, as he puts his question in a loud and 
angry tone, the study-door opens, and Editha appears, pale and 
anxious-looking. That sweet sad face is not a reassuring counte- 
nance for a creditor to behold. 

"Mr. Westray will be home in a few weeks at latest, Mr. Min- 
cer," she says quietly. " I am sorry you should have to wait for 
your money." 

" So am I, ma'am," answers the man gloomily, but in a less 
savage tone than he had used to the maid just now. " I've got 
a heavy bill to make up, and I want Mr. Westray's money for it. 
I thought I was safe enough in letting his account run — that my 
money was as good as if it was in the bank. But money in the 
bank's no use if you can't get it when you want it. That's where 
it is, you see, ma'am. Your coachman sends round to me for two 
quarter of oats and half a load of hay this morning, as cool as 
vou please ; but I ain't a-going to supply nothink more without 
the money." 

" You shall have the money, then, Mr. Mincer. The horses 
must be fed while we have them. You shall be paid ready 
money for everything in future. If you'll send me a bill with the 
things that my coachman ordered it shall be paid on delivery." 

" Well, ma'am, you can't say fairer than that, as far as it goes," 
replies the corn-merchant, softened, if not satisfied. " But I 
should be very glad of fifty pound on account to help meet 
that bill. My creditors won't wait. It's a dull time of the year, 
too ; some of the best of my customers has sent their horses out 
to grass while they're at the seaside. And I make no doubt this 

258 Hostages to Fortune. 

war will send up the price of oats awful. And when oats goes 
up horses is put down — leastways that's my experience." 

Home without Herman, and with this shadow of debt hanging 
over it like a pall, is home no longer. Editlia's spirits sink to 
their lowest ebb. She is full of fears for Herman in the pre- 
sent. Cheerily as she writes to him, she is not without fear 
for him in the future. She knows not what ruin may be de- 
scending upon him, what power exasperated creditors may have 
to assail and injure him, what disgrace insolvency may not in- 
volve — his honour, his good name, perhaps, for ever forfeited by 
the imprudence of the last two years. 

Of poverty in the abstract this fond wife has no terror. She 
can fancy no lot sweeter than humble fortune with the man she 
loves — an existence narrowed by narrow means to simplest 
domesticity ; a life spent among the hills and woods and quiet 
villages of Wales, far from all that makes life costly. But the 
shame of debts unpaid is horrible to her mind. That brief inter- 
view with the disappointed corn-merchant was sharpest agony. 

Her two servants, the nursemaid Jane and housemaid Selina, 
behave very well at this juncture, as servants generally do in 
time of trouble. They know that a cloud lowers upon the 
house, and are curiously gentle and sympathetic, compassionat- 
ing the young mistress who has never spoken an unkind word to 
them, and secretly angry with their master for his absence in 
this time of embarrassment. Selina even deigns to keep the 
kitchen clean unassisted by a charwoman. 

So time slips on for ten days. Herman's letters appear almost 
daily in the Day Stat; full of life and sparkle, graphic descrip- 
tion, and sharp observation, which delight the readers of the 
great journal. Editha reads them with tears in her eyes. How 
clever he is ! what vigour, what vivacity in his writing ! And 
how happy he seems amidst the bustle and excitement of war — 
how unconscious of danger, how indifferent to deprivation ! 

Ten days, which seem like ten weeks. Editha has hardly 
stirred from the house since her Sunday-afternoon call at Mrs. 
Brandreth's. A little walk in the garden with baby is her only 
exercise. The leaves are beginning to change colour already ; a 
few of the earliest fall across her path as she walks. Steamers 
crowded with happy Cockneys come aground in the twilight, or 
go puffing and panting triumphantly by, as if they never had 
been known to get aground in their lives and were incapable of 
doing it. The noble expanse of Thames mud has a melancholy 
look at low tide. The lights of Putney twinkle less cheerily 
than of old. Dismal hour betwixt day and night, when it is too 
light for lamps or candles, and the evening gray is peopled with 
saddest thoughts. 

Hostages to Fortune. 259 

It is in this dreary pause between light and darkness that the 
first note of ruin sounds in Editha's ears. She is walking in the 
garden after her solitary tea-dinner, looking hopelessly at the 
darkening river and thinking of the good days gone — the 
first spring and summer of her wedded life, when the world 
seemed full of joy. A stealthy-sounding footstep startles her, 
and she turns suddenly. It is only Selina, coming towards her 
with a cautious step and a scared expression of countenance. 

" 0, if you please, ma'am, there's a gentleman and a man 
wants to see you ; and I'm afraid it's something wrong, for 
they said something about taking possession of the place." 

" What do you mean, Selina ? " 

" Well, I'm afraid, ma'am, they're something in the way of 
bailiffs. My last master but one was subject to bailiffs ; they 
used to come in once in three months as regular as the water- 
rate ; and these have azackly the same look. I don't know 
whether it's the cut of their clothes, or the way they wear their 
'ats, or the oiliness of their complexions, but you may pretty 
well know 'em anywheres." 

Editha has a vague idea that bailiffs are the bandogs of the 
fiend Debt, but hasn't the faintest notion as to the working of the 

She goes quietly to meet her doom, whatever it may be. In 
the dining-room she finds a large and florid gentleman, with a 
nose, a beard, two black side-curls of the Newgate-knocker 
pattern, and a demonstrative watch-chain. This gentleman is 
seated in an easy attitude on the corner of the dining-table. 
His humble companion stands aloof, hat in hand. The hat is 
greasy of aspect, and overflows with a large red-cotton hand- 
kerchief. This lowly follower of the doomsman has a depreca- 
tory expression of countenance, as of one accustomed to be 
despised — one to whom the process of being kicked out of doors 
is not positively unknown. 

The florid gentleman with the watch-chain is elaborately civil. 
He explains in a debonnaire way the motive of his intrusion. 
There is a little bill of sale on Mr. Westray's furniture — quite a 
friendly thing ; but even between friends business is business, 
and must be arranged in a business-like manner. The amount 
is eleven hundred and odd pounds, and in the event of Mrs. 
Westray not being ready to pay that sum, the debonnaire gentle- 
man is here to take possession of the aforesaid furniture by his 
minion, the man with the sleek hat. 

" I think it will be more agreeable for all parties for me to 
leave the man," says the pleasant-spoken gentleman. " It will 
give you and Mr. Westray time to look about you. You'll find 
Cruncher the quietest creature. Give him a corner to sit in — 

260 Hostages to Fortune. 

the back-kitclien, or the scullery if you like ; let him smoke his 
pipe ; give him his victuals regular — he's rather a heavy feeder, 
Cruncher — and he'll be as happy as the day is long. There isn't 
a more harmless fellow going. You won't know he's in the house." 

The sheriff's officer having inducted his representative, takes 
a gracious leave of Mrs. VVestray, whose beauty has evidently 
impressed his sensitive nature. He lingers a little to admire the 
Pompeian dining-room, and is elaborately civil, with a shade of 
friendliness which offends Editha's pride. She tells Selina to 
show the gentleman out in the midst of his panegyric on her 
taste of upholstery. 

"Pity to break up such a tasty place!" he says; "but no 
doubt Mr. Westray will find it easy to settle this little affair. A 
gentleman so popular with the public can't have much difficulty 
in finding a thousand or so. Nice thing that last play of his at 
the Frivolity ! I went to see it three times. That Mrs. Brand- 
reth's a stunner ! " 

Editha turns her back upon the man with a shudder. She feels 
as if some particularly loathsome member of the flat-headed 
snake tribe had crawled into her once-happy home. The door 
closes on the well-dressed executor of the law ; but the humbler 
bandog remains, still standing meekly just inside the dining-room 
door, sleeking that oleaginous hat of his with his moist palm. 

" Selina, what are we to do ? " exclaims Editha hopelessly. If 
the officers of doom had come to convey her by water to her 
Majesty's Tower, to languish in some stony cell till she was 
brought out to die, she could feel no deeper despair. "What are 
we to do with that horrid man ? " she asks piteously. 

" Lor, ma'am, you needn't trouble about him," replies Selina 
cheeringly ; " leave him to me. They're manageable enough, 
poor things ! I'll give him a bit of cold Irish stew for supper, 
and let him sit with me and Jane. He looks a harmless creature, 
though he might be cleaner." 

"I don't suppose there is any harm in him," says Editha, almost 
in tears ; " but to think of his being in the same house with baby." 

Selina tells the law's minion to follow her down-stairs. She 
speaks to him sharply and authoritatively, as if he had been 
some dilapidated old person hired to clean the boots, and he 
obeys submissively, feeling himself very low down upon the 
social ladder. 

Editha goes up to the nursery, and has her boy's crib brought 
down to her own room. The nurse can make up a bed for her- 
self in the adjacent dressing-room, so as to be close at hand. If 
that shabby old man lurking in the basement were a member of 
the vampire tribe, and likely to prowl up-stairs after midnight 
intent on sucking her infant's blood, Mrs. Westray could hardly 

Hostages to Fortune. 261 

dread him more than she does. She is a little more easy in her 
mind when young' Herman's crib is established beside her bed, 
the baby lips moving softly in placid sleep. With the door of 
her bedroom locked on the inside, and the nurse keeping guard 
in the dressing-room, she feels that her darling is safe . This is 
her citadel ; here even debt can hardly assail her. 

She looks round at the bright pretty furniture with a sigh. To 
think that any one else — some low common man, perhaps — should 
hold a legal instrument giving him power to seize upon these 
things, to devastate this tasteful home, to send his grimy custo- 
dian into her house, there to squat toad-like till the law's delay 
be ended and the hour of ruin come ! What is to be done ? she 
asks herself by-and-by, when her spirits are a little calmer. 
That good girl Selina has brought her a cup of tea, and has com- 
forted her with the assurance that the man in possession is a 
very decent sort of person, and is making himself agreeable 

" I've made him up a bed in the housekeeper's room, ma'am ; 
for I thought you wouldn't like to have him up-stairs," says the 
thoughtful Selina. 

" How good you are ! " is all Editha can reply. 

" Lor, ma'am, I can't bear to see you in trouble ! Such a kind 
mistress as you've been, never interfering, nor nothing ! I'm 
sure I should have upped and told you about Mrs. Files giving 
away the victuals, if I'd thought you couldn't afford to be 
cheated ; but seeing you and master so careless like, I fancied it 
didn't matter. And it's so unpleasant for one servant to tell upon 

" You are a good girl, Selina, and I hope you'll stay with ma 
wherever we go. We must be more careful in future ; for you 
see we are poor people. My income is a very small one, and 
your master has to work for his living." 

" Writing books," says Selina, with a dubious air ; " that seems 
easy work enough, as long as the thoughts come into your head. 
But it must make his hand ache holding the pen so long, I should 
think. I've often wondered he doesn't have an amanuisance." 

Trouble makes the kindly Selina a shade familiar, but she 
means well. She runs down-stairs to fetch nurse's supper, that 
custodian of infancy being no more permitted to leave her sleep- 
ing charge than if she were set to watch an alembic in which 
carbon was crystallising into diamond. 

Editha stands at the window looking at the moonlit river — 
very beautiful now — shore and tree and tower all glorified by 
the moon. She tries to think what is to be done — how money 
is to be found to pay this unknown creditor who holds dominion 
over her household treasures. To let the house furnished, or 


2G2 Hostages to Fortune. 

to remove the furniture to a smaller and less expensive house, 
would be only retrenchment, and she could submit to the change 
without a pang. But to see these goods and chattels taken for- 
cible possession of by a creditor, would mean ignominy. 

Upwards of eleven hundred pounds ! Can she ask her father 
for such a sum ? No, that is impossible. She knows that the 
Squire finds it as much as he can do to maintain that large house- 
hold at the Priory ; to find money for repairs and necessary im- 
provements ; to keep his estate and all appertaining thereto in 
fit order, to be transferred by and by to his eldest son. He has 
to help his sons, who have large families and small professional 
incomes. No, pride and good feeling alike forbid any appeal to 
her father. She has married the husband of her choice ; she has 
disappointed the Squire's dearest hopes by that marriage. Only 
the other day he spoke regretfully, reproachfully even, of her 
refusal of Vivian Hetheridge. No, she cannot ask her father 
for eleven hundred pounds, even if there were any likelihood of 
his having such a sum at his disposal. Kuth's income is like her 
own, something less than two hundred a year from trust money 
under her mother's settlement, not to be anticipated or disposed of ; 
so there can be no help from Ruth. These two people make 
Mrs. Westray's little world. She has no one else to look to. 

" Perhaps Herman will be able to raise the money quite easily 
when he comes home," she thinks, more hopefully. 

She writes him a long letter that night, telling him what 
has happened, and entreating him to return as soon as pos- 
sible. She has thoughts of telegraphing to him, but on delibera- 
tion prefers the slower mode of a letter. A telegram with such 
unpleasant news might be too severe a shock. She would spare 
him pain if possible. 

The night drags itself through, sleepless for Editha. She lies 
broad awake, thinking of these new difficulties — money difficul- 
ties, unknown to her hitherto. Morning comes with its garish 
light and the accustomed household sounds. She rises a little later 
than usual, too hopeless almost to face the day's dull round. 
Baby has been crawling over her more or less since six o'clock, 
playing at wild beasts on the pillow, and making a lion's den of 
the curtains. Selina brings her a cup of tea, and the agreeable 
tidings that the " old gentleman " has slept very well, and has 
eaten the best part of a half-quartern loaf and two Yarmouth 
bloaters for breakfast. 

Anon comes the excitement of baby's bath, with various 
aquatic and acrobatic performances attendant thereupon, splash- 
ings and climbings and somersaults on his nurse's lap ; baby's 
breakfast ; and then nurse and baby sally forth for a promenad 
in the episcopal garden ; baby enthroned in his perambulator ; 

jitisutijes 10 roriunc 263 

nurse in a newly-starched gown, and something brilliant in 
the bonnet line. Editha is alone, and will be alone till baby's 
dinner-time. She goes down to Herman's study, her chosen 
retreat, and tries to find solace in his books. 

She opens a volume of Sir Thomas Browne, and reads listlessly 
for a little while, and anon seeks comfort in one of Taylor's 
sermons. How calmly they philosophised, these sages and 
clerics of old, as if trouble or sorrow never came near them, save 
as a subject for meditation, a thesis to write upon ! Did they 
ever know real heartache ? she wonders. These meditators upon 
tombstones, these anatomisers of melancholy, or even this prince 
of eloquence, the Cambridge barber's son, Jeremy Taylor, who 
tries to philosophise the sting out of sorrow and death. To-day 
in her own depth of anguish, it seems to Editha as if these sages 
were chiefly intent on the exhibition of their learning and the 
stately march of their sentences. 

" Let me read some one who has suffered," she says impa- 
tiently, closing Burton's famous treatise — one of the books that 
always lies on Herman's writing table, side by side with Mon- 
taigne and La Bruyere — and taking down Charles Lamb. The 
tenderness, the bright humour soothe her. For nearly an hour 
she forgets her cares. How gaily he wrote, whose life was so 
full of sadness ! what sweetness he drew from smallest pleasures ! 
How exquisite his appreciation of tranquil domestic joys ! A 
choice old book picked up at a stall, a china teacup, a friendly 
rubber, an act of gracious unpretending charity, an exercise of 
unselfish hospitality to a needy acquaintance. Sweet Elia, the 
world gave thee so little, and thou hast given the world so much ! 

The ringing of the hall-door bell startles Editha from the en- 
joyment of her book. She hears a masculine voice, and then 
Selina opens the study-door and announces Mr. Lyndhurst. 

Editha's pale face crimsons as he enters. Not for worlds would 
he have one of Herman's friends aware of his degradation, and 
she has a dim idea that the presence of the man in possession 
must make itself felt in the house a kind of social malaria. 

" I am lucky in finding you at home on such a fine day," says 
Mr. Lyndhurst, after the usual greetings. 

" Not especially lucky ; I am almost always at home." 

Mr. Lyndhurst remembers a certain familiar story of a peerless 
matron spinning among her maids when the fatal visitor came. 
Domesticity does not always mean safety. 

" Westray not yet returned from the seat of war ? " 

" Not yet," she answers, with a sigh. 

" And you have no definite announcement of his coming ? " 

" No ; but I expect him soon." 

"Indeed. I should have thought he would have stayed tc 

264 Hostages to Fortune. 

see the upshot of this business, and I fear it will hang long on 
hand. It must be interesting work. Do you remember my 
telling you he was likely to accept the Day Star people's offer, 
when we were in Wales ? You thought he would not, but I was 
right, you see. I knew him best." 

"Perhaps you knew his necessities better than I did," replies 
Editha, with dignity. That anybody should pretend to be her supe- 
rior in knowledge of her husband's character is not to be endured. 

" Well, yes, perhaps that was it. I knew that he had difficul- 
ties to contend with just at that time." 

" I am glad that he went," says Editha cheerfully. She feels 
that to seem despondent would be to betray the secret of that 
Frankenstein in the basement. 

" He writes in excellent spirits. The change will do him good ; 
and when he comes back, I have reason to hope that he will con- 
sent to our going to live in the country. There is a house near 
Lochwithian — I showed it to you one day, by-the-bye — which I 
have set my heart upon making our home." 

" For a fortnight ? " 

"For always. With an occasional visit to London, of course." 

" My dear Mrs. Westray, your husband would be melancholy 
mad after the first month. lie has not what Bulwer Lytton calls 
the rural temperament. He is dependent upon society for his 
pleasures. He likes books well enough as a means, but learning 
is not the end of his life. He likes men and women better than 
books, and is more an observer than a thinker. His well- 
spring of invention would run dry if you took him away from the 
clubs ! his fountain of imagination would cease to iiow if you 
shut him out of the theatres. In a word, he is not a literary 
creator, but a literary photographer." 

" I am sorry his friend should rank him so low," exclaims 
Editha, wounded. 

" My candour offends you, yet I meant to praise. What can 
be a happier exercise of genius than to supply the want of one's 
age ? The desire of our age is to see itself in a glass. We have 
exploded the historical novel, the legendary novel, the romantic 
novel. We don't want Greeks or Komans, Saxons or Crusaders. 
We want ourselves — our literature, to please us, must be about 
ourselves ; our plays, to amuse us, must represent ourselves ; our 
pictures, to be popular, must show us ourselves. Imagine a new 
Southey sitting down to write Roderick or Thalaba ; imagine a 
publisher's feelings on having the poem offered him. Your 
husband respects the inclination of his age and writes of men 
and women he knows. Take him away from his models, and 
you cause the decay of his art. He will be writing from 
memory instead of following the inspiration of the hour. ' 

Hostages to Fortune. 265 

" Perhaps you are right," replies Editha, with a sigh ; " but I am 
not ready to admit as much. I should like Herman to turn his 
back upon this human kaleidoscope, London Society, and draw 
upon his imagination. If Scott had given us nothing but life in 
Princes-street, Edinburgh, he would not have held a large place 
in our minds. And then I have Herman's health and happiness 
to consider as well as his success as a writer. He was looking ill 
■when I left him to go- to Lochwithian, and I know he has been 

" There may be other causes as well as overwork," says Lynd- 
hurst thoughtfully. " I believe Westray has been worried, of late. ' 

" He has had anxieties about money matters, perhaps," says 
Editha, with a troubled look. 

" I was not thinking of those." 

" Of what then ? Mr. Lyndhurst, pray speak plainly ! If 
you have the knowledge of anxieties which my husband, from 
mistaken kindness, conceals from me, do not hesitate to let me 
know the worst. Nothing could make me more unhappy than to 
know I had not shared his trouble." 

" There may be trouble which it is impossible for you to share 
— trouble which I have no right to speak about in your hearing. 
Do not draw me on to say too much, Mrs. Westray. Eespect 
for you, sympathy with you, may make me false to my friend." 

" That cannot possibly be. I have no interest apart from my 

" Of course not ; let us say no more," replies Lyndhurst, with 
an embarrassed manner which puzzles and troubles Editha. 

"Now I know that you are hiding something from me, Mr. 
Lyndhurst," she exclaims eagerly ; " I can see it in your face 
and manner. Something has happened since I left London ; 
you know of some trouble that has come upon my husband, or 
that threatens him. If it is a money trouble only, perhaps I 
know as much as you ; but if it is anything else, anything worse — " 

" Come, then, I'll trust you," replies Lyndhurst, as if moved 
by a sudden gush of honest feeling, " at the risk of seeming a 
traitor to my friend. Yet I shall be no traitor, for he has never 
confided in me. All I know is the result of observation and of 
accident : your husband is in clanger." 

" In what danger ? " cries Editha, alarmed. 

" In danger of sinning against you beyond recall ; in danger 
of bartering home, peace, happiness, honour, for an unprincipled 
woman's smiles ; in danger of delivering himself over, bound hand 
and foot, to his first love, Myra Brandreth." 

" His first love ! " 

She repeats the words slowly, pale as death, looking at Hamil- 
ton Lyndhurst with Lorror's stead fast gaze, 

266 Hostages to Fortune. 

" His first love! " she says again. " He never loved her, never 
knew her till she acted in his plays. He cares nothing for her 
— except as a clever actress, able to carry out his ideas." 

" Did he not — does he not ? Mrs. Westray, you have 
indeed been hoodwinked ! Did he not tell you ? Well, I sup- 
pose it's the fashion to leave these things dark : yet I thought 
when a man married it was incumbent upon him to let his wife 
know something of his past." 

" I knew that Herman was engaged to a woman who was false 
to him." 

" But you did not know that the jilt was Mrs. Brandreth. He 
did not tell you the Devonshire idyl in full — did not tell you 
that he and Colonel Clitheroe's daughter were children together, 
plighted lovers before they were out of their teens, and that ad- 
verse circumstances, or in other words empty pockets, alone 
parted them. Those half confidences are a mistake. Had you 
known all, your woman's wit would have found some means of 
keeping him out of reach of his first love — false to him, but 
never forgetful of him." 

" Had I known all, I should have been no more afraid of Mrs. 
Brandreth's influence on my husband than I am now," replies 
Editha, struggling proudly with that aching heart of hers. 

" My dear Mrs. Westray, that is what every true woman says 
at the first blush. But if I did not think you superior both in 
sense and courage to the generality of women, I should never 
have ventured to approach this most painful subject. I like 
Westray, and I don't like to see him going headlong to his ruin. 
I revere you, and I cannot stand by to see you wronged. I am 
a man of the world, and I look at these things from a worldly 
point of view. Your husband's too evident devotion to Mrs. 
Brandreth does not horrify me as it would your brother the 
clergyman. He would be for going straight off to the lawyers 
and asking for a judicial separation. 1 look upon the whole 
thing as a social mistake — one of those follies which shipwreck 
lives, because there is seldom any one with courage to speak 
plainly either to the sinner or the sinned against. I have spoken 
very plainly to your husband, but he has laughed at my advice. 
I take a bolder course now, and venture to call your attention to 
this rock ahead which threatens your domestic peace." 

" I am willing to believe that you mean well by this interfer- 
ence, Mr. Lyndhurst," Editha replies calmly, " but I must tell 
you that I consider your remarks as insulting to me as they are 
to my husband. If I have lost my hold upon his affection, which 
I do not for a moment believe, I doubt whether any advice of 
yours would enable me to regain it; I would rather trust to my 
own heart, my own instinct, in such a case as. .that. My hus- 

Hostages to Fortune. 267 

band's liking for Mrs. Brandreth's society results only from his 
love of dramatic art ; she is able to advise him about the con- 
struction of his plays, her technical knowledge is of use to him — " 

" And out of sheer gratitude he writes her love-letters," inter- 
rupts Lyndhurst scornfully. " Mrs. Westray, I cannot see you 
so blinded by affection for a man who at his best is unworthy of 
you. Think me cruel, dishonourable — what you will : I must 
speak plainly. I picked up the torn half of a letter in Myra 
Brandreth's boudoir the day before I left London for Wales, 
and kept it, half disposed to show it you, yet doubtful whether 
it were not better to keep the secret. But when I see you so 
deluded, so confident in a bad man — " 

" Show me the letter, sir, and spare me your criticism. When 
my husband's honour is in question, I had rather judge for myself." 

"You will forgive me for the pain I inflict? " 

" Forgive you ? Do you suppose I think of you for a moment ? 
Give me the letter." 

He takes a letter from his breast-pocket, selecting it from half 
a dozen others, and hands it to her slowly, with a slight hesita- 
tion of manner, as if at the last moment he were doubtful 
whether he should let her see it. 

There is the thick square envelope directed in the hand she 
knows so well, and inside it half a sheet of Bath post, torn un- 
evenly from the letter of which it has formed a part. 

For some moments Editha can hardly see the words. She 
turns abruptly away from Mr. Lyndhurst, unwilling that he should 
discover how weak she is, and then, steadying herself with an 
effort, reads the following lines in her husband's hand : 

" So, after weighing all circumstances deliberately, I can see 
only one chance of happiness for me and you, and that lies in 
reunion. We were foolish when we parted ; we should be worse 
than foolish to remain asunder now that we have discovered, 
once for all, how utterly dependent we are upon each other for 
happiness. Without you life for me loses all zest, all charm ; 
ambition is a word of no meaning. Consider this, dearest, and 
decide. You need fear no repetition of past mistakes in the 
future. I know my own heart now, and know that it cannot 
change. It is yours now, as it has been yours always. Every 
other dream was delusive. I shall go away in order that you 
may make your election deliberately. If you decide, as I hope 
and believe you will decide, you can join me in my exile, the 
time and place to be agreed upon when your heart has spoken 
as to our future." 

This is all. The lines fill only half the page. There is neither 
signature nor date. 

'"This lcU-r tu "' 1 "'" 1 ' '""" """"' f " attach so much importance 

268 Hostages to Fortune. 

is unsigned," Editha says, after slowly reading those cruel lines, 
winch seem to her like the death-warrant of her happiness. 

" I don't think any signature is necessary for its identification," 
replies Lyndhurst coolly ; " there can be no doubt as to the 
identity of the writer." 

" I am not so sure of that. People write so much alike 

" Sublime hypocrisy," thinks Lyndhurst ; " she will pretend to 
believe black is white rather than condemn her husband." 

" However, I will show my husband the letter when he comes 
home, and ask him how it came to be written. I have no doubt I 
shall find it means something very different from what j r ou suppose." 

"When he comes home," echoes Lyndhurst, with a sneer, 
dropping the tone of sympathising friend and honest open- 
minded counsellor. " Do you believe, in the face of that letter, 
that he will ever come home ? Can you doubt that this war- 
correspondent business was a planned thing — a subtle scheme to 
make escape easy ; to bridge over an awkward interval and 
lessen the scandal of his desertion of you? Mrs. Brandreth.will 
join him when her theatre closes ; she cannot afford to leave 
London sooner. To-night is the last of the season, by-the-bye. 
She will be free to-morrow." 

Editha listens horror-stricken. Delirium could imagine no 
wilder dream than this waking agony. Coldly, quietly, in those 
tranquil legato tones, Hamilton Lyndhurst makes manifest her 
husband's perfidy. He has gone back to his first love. His 
heart has never really belonged to his wife. This Myra Brand- 
ret h, clever, brilliant, fascinating, famous, has never lost her 
hold upon him. 

Can such infamy be ? She looks down at that shameless letter 
— that bold avowal of guilty passion — and the answer is obvious. 
His own hand condemns him. 

" Mrs. Brandreth's life has been spotless hitherto," she says, 
striving to be calm, stifling that bitter cry of anguish which is 
ready to burst from her lips. " She has preserved her good name 
in the midst of temptation. I cannot believe that she will dis- 
grace herself by a shameful flight, even," she adds slowly, 
recovering self-possession in some degree, " even if this letter of 
Herman's means what it seems to mean, which I do not for a 
moment admit." 

" My dear Mrs. Westray, if that letter be not evidence, I don't 
know what evidence is. As for Sirs. Brandreth, she has had very 
good cards to play, and has played them remarkably well. She 
has won distinction and made money; she has repelled Earls- 
wood's advances, and yet kept him her adorer. But you forget 
the power of love.* Open the floodgates of passion, and worldly 

Hostages to Fortune. 2G9 

wisdom is swept away by the torrent. Love that stops to reason 
or counts the cost of a saerifice is no love at all." 

" If my husband is false to me, if his love has been alienated 
or he has never loved me, I cannot discuss my sorrow with you, 
Mr. Lyndhurst. I suppose I ought to thank you for having opened 
my eyes to this most bitter truth, but — " 

Her voice trembles, the words are stifled by a convulsive 
throbbing in her throat ; she makes one heroic effort to control 
her grief, and then breaks down altogether, and sobs aloud. 

" Mrs. Westray — Editha," says Lyndhurst, pale with suppressed 
passion. Vile as the man is he pities her — pities her as he would 
pity his horse or dog in mortal agony, his heart wrung as if by 
absolute pain. " Editha, if this man had been false only, I should 
have spared you this revelation ; but he has been heartless as 
well. He leaves you hemmed in with difficulties, leaves you 
under the shadow of disgrace. Yes, I know all ; the news of 
our friends' troubles fly on the wings of the wind ; every one in 
your husband's circle knows. This house is no fitting shelter for 
you, a shelter from which you may be driven at any hour. And 
he leaves you homeless, penniless — " 

"That is not true," interrupts Editha haughtily. "He has left 
me amply provided with ready money." 

" But not with money to pay his debts.'" 

" That may have been impossible." 

"No doubt, and he planned his flight accordingly- He has 
known for some time that his difficulties were approaching a 
crisis, and he considered that crisis the fittest occasion for break- 
ing free from all bonds, matrimonial as well as social." 

" I will not hear his conduct discussed ; I will not allow 
motives to be ascribed to him. Even if I know him to be a 
sinner, I will not accept your judgment of his sin." 

" But you must, you shall, hear me out," returns Lyndhurst, 
bending over her with a look whose intensity startles her with a 
sudden terror. There is meaning in that look which even her 
innocence cannot misunderstand. Passion burns in those dark 
eyes and clouds that stern brow. " I came here to save you from 
humiliation, to offer you true love instead of sham love — the 
love of a man who would peril all that men hold highest to win 
one smile from you. Editha, I have loved you from the first ; 
your noble face flashed upon me like a revelation more than two 
years ago. I have lived a new life since then, for my life has 
had a purpose. I have watched and waited for this hour, know- 
ing that, soon or late, it must come. You have not understood 
me ; you have been as blind to my love as you have been to your 
husband's growing indifference, his preference for another. It 
is well that you should know both at once. I love you as no 

270 Hostages to Fortune. 

\\ r oman — even the best and loveliest — is loved more than once in 
her life ; love you steadfastly, unselfishly, unalterably. Granted 
that my past life has not been blameless, yet it is no profligate's 
fleeting passion that I offer you, but a strong man's awakening to 
pure and perfect love. Trust your future to me, my beloved, 
and it shall be the brightest destiny that love and wealth ever 
made for the idol of a man's heart. Our modern law makes 
release from an unhappy marriage possible. Trust yourself to 
me, dearest, and in a few months I may call you wife. Till that 
blessed day comes I ask only to be your champion and defender, 
your slave to obey and honour your lightest wish." 

Editha hears him to the end, hears him with a blank stare of 
amazement, which changes slowly to a disdainful smile. 

" Is this all you have to say ? " she asks at last, with provoking 

" I could plead my cause to the end of time, but all is told 
when I tell you I am your slave," he answers with an uneasy 
smile. That deliberate question of Editha's is worse than the 
most stormy repulse. Her tones, her looks alike pronounce the 
fatal truth. He has made not the faintest impression on her 
heart. The fool loves her fickle husband still. 

Mrs. Westray rings the bell. Happily the faithful Selina, now 
maid-of -all-work, does not happen to have her hands entangled 
i:i a floury pudding, or to be washing dishes at a greasy sink, 
aiid therefore appears promptly. 

" The door, Selina," says Editha. Indignation has stifled grief. 
There is hardly a trace of tears upon the pale proud face. 

Selina opens the hall-d ior, distant about two yards from that 
of the study, and Hamilton Lyndhurst, the millionaire, the in- 
vincible, the Rochester of the Stock Exchange, knows himself 
ignominiously dismissed. 

He strolls up Fulham's old-fashioned High-street with an im- 
perturbable countenance, but the vulture is at work within. 
Never before has he set his heart upon any prize and failed to 
win it. He has aimed high this time, it is true, but he has been 
patient, and deems himself worthy of reward. Anger for the 
moment is dominant over every other feeling. The hardest 
words in his vocabulary are not bitter enough for the woman who 
has scorned him. 

" I am not beaten yet," he tells himself. " Love is never so 
strong as when it goes hand in hand with revenge. I will 
trample her pride in the dust. She shall be the sovereign lady 
of my life, or husbandless, homeless, nameless, and degraded." 

Hostages to Fortune. 271 


" I haye lived long enough, having seen one thing, that love hath an 

The revelation of Hamilton Lyndhurst's baseness is a shock 
from which Editha does 'not easily recover. She has trusted him 
and believed in him as her husband's friend — the kindly visitor 
whose presence has brought cheerfulness to her fireside. She 
has liked him and Ruth has liked him, and been solaced by his 
genius. She remembers those placid hours at Lochwithian with 
a shudder, feeling as if she had cherished a serpent unawares. 
Her womanly pride is outraged by the idea that any man — the 
most daring — should presume to speak as Hamilton Lyndhurst 
has spoken to her. 

" Do I seem the kind of woman to listen to such a proposal ? " 
she asks herself. " I, Herman's wife ? " 

But deeper than this natural shame, more bitter than outraged 
purity, is the fact of Herman's falsehood. That changes life and 
the world. Hope has fled for ever. How petty, how transient 
appear all her previous cares when weighed again'st this over- 
whelming sorrow ! To know that she has lost his love, or never 
really possessed it, were bitter enough, but far worse, for a lofty 
mind, is the knowledge that the man she loves is treacherous, 
false, and cowardly ; that he has abandoned her in the hour of 
trouble, leaving for her the burden of debt, poverty, and disgrace, 
while he woos another to share his shameful exile. 

" I could have endured beggary with him without a murmur ! " 
she exclaims piteously. And then again and again she pores 
over that hideous page which tells his treachery. "Words so 
deliberate, so audacious in their infamy. Not one syllable of 
self-upbraiding, not one gush of pity for his forsaken wife. 

" Yet he would hardly have written my name in such a letter," 
she thinks, with a touch of pride. " I ought to thank him for 
having spared me such an insult." 

If she could, by any straining of her senses, think this paper a 
forgery ; if she could believe that the words had any other 
meaning than their obvious significance, she would too gladly 
take refuge in that belief. She would doubt in spite of herself, 
if there were room for doubt. But there is none. The hand is 
Herman's. She knows eveiy trick of his writing as well as she 
knows her own face in the glass. The words will bear only ono 

Solina, coming in with a luncheon tray, is startled by h« 
mistress's wIii to f-">' ,n 

272 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Lor, mum, how gashly pale you do look, to bo suro ! I hope 
that gentleman didn't bring you no bad news." 

" He told me that people know of our disgrace already. That 
seems hard." 

"Meaning the elderly gentleman down-stairs? Lor, mum, 
you needn't go to fret about that. Bailiffs are common enough. 
My last master but one thought no more of a man in possession 
than of the chimney-sweep. He used to come a'most as regular." 

Baby comes home at this juncture, fresh and blooming after a 
long morning out of doors, and Editha has to assist at the young 
gentleman's dinner. He has lately been promoted to the dignity 
of a mutton-chop, instead of the beef-teas and panadas of 
infancy, and to cut up this chop into minutest portions, to watch 
the child dispose of the same, and to amuse him while he dines, 
have been hitherto Mrs. Westray's most agreeable occupations. 
To-day the wounded heart refuses to be comforted even by baby. 
The nurse is dismissed to her leisurely dinner in the kitchen, the 
mother performs her customary duties ; but the task is done 
mechanically. The child looks up at her with vague wonder in 
his large round eyes. He misses the tender voice that has been 
wont to discourse sweet nonsense to him. He stares at his mother 
fixedly for a few moments, and then, scared by her rigid counte- 
nance, bursts into a dismal howl. 

That cry recalls Editha to her duty. She clasps the little fellow 
to her breast, and hot tears rain down upon him. 

" My darling, my precious one, my fatherless baby ! " she sobs. 
And then composing herself , sets to work to console and reassure 
the little one, and anon woos him to the discussion and enjoy- 
ment of his mutton-chop. 

The baby's love is sweet to this young mother evenin her despair, 
but not a healing balm for those aching wounds of hers. He 
loves her, this little one, she thinks, almost wonderingly ; for it 
seems somewhat strange to her that she should inspire love in 
any one, having failed to keep Herman's affection — failed though 
she has given all things, failed though she has well-nigh fallen 
into the sin of idolatry. 

She has her father's calm easy-going affection still, and Ruth's 
deep love. Are not these things something ? Alas, her home 
life, all the joy and peace of her days before she knew Herman, 
seem to her far away — almost too remote for memory, as if they 
had belonged to her in a different state of being ! She can 
draw no comfort from the thought of home and home-love to-day. 

Will Ruth and the Squire come to know of Herman's false- 
hood ? That question presents itself to Editha's mind as a new 
horror. How long shall she be able to hide his degradation — to 
keep the secret of his guilt ? Not long, she fears, Those who 

Hostages to Fortune. 273 

love her so well will be curious about her fate. They will dis- 
cover her husband's desertion, and she will have to endure their 
anger against him, their scornful wonder at his baseness. 

Every day will add to her burden. For such a grief as hers 
there is no comforter but Death. 

Even this afternoon come fresh worries, small annoyances, 
like the carrion flies that sting some maimed wretch broken on 
the wheel. The neighbouring traders have found out somehow 
that the storm has burst on Bridge-end House. They send in 
their little accounts, and wait for answers to their applica- 
tions. They are insolent and importunate. Summonses come 
fluttering down, like the big drops that fall before a tempest — 
water-rates, poor-rates, gas-accounts. Though Mr. and Mrs. 
AVestray have spent so much ready money, they seem in debt 
for everything. 

Editha's horror of the house grows upon her as these assaults 
become more numerous, and she finally determines on flight. 
She will take nurse and baby with her, and retire to some quiet 
little lodging up at Wimbledon, where they may live at least 
unassailed by insolent creditors, where she will feel herself secure 
from the possibility of any farther intrusion on the part of Mr. 
Lyndhurst. No one but Selina shall know the secret of her retreat. 

She consults that faithful girl as to the step, and Selina con- 
curs in its advisability. 

" Anything will be better for you than being worretted to death 
here, mum," says Selina. " I can have the charwoman to keep 
me company. Her husband's out of work, and she'll come for 
the sake of a good meal of victuals, and glad. And I can bring 
you up any letters as may come, of an evening. It will be a 
walk for me." 

Mrs. Westray has a few pounds of her own, and an unbroken 
ten-pound note, part of the sum sent her by Mrs. Brandreth's 
treasurer last Saturday. The ten pounds she will leave with 
Selina. Her own slender purse will serve for maintenance at 
Wimbledon. The first thing to be done is to find a comfortable 
lodging, and she determines upon driving up to the village on 
the hill to-morrow. She can leave the carriage at some way-side 
inn and go on foot to hunt for her lodging, so that her coachman 
may not be able to inform any one of her whereabouts by-and-by. 

How hateful — how dear — the house that has been the scene of 
her brief wedded life seems to her ! Hateful from the horror 
tliat has fallen upon it — dear for its memories of happy days. 
She takes up Herman's scattered books one by one and kisses them. 

" Ah, dearest, I have loved you too fondly," she says, " and 
you have grown tired of my love. It has seemed so common a 
thing- — given unasked, given without measure." 

274 Hostages to Fortune. 

She remembers a passage in Devereux which she and Herman 
discussed one happy evening by the study-fire. 

" The deadliest foe to love is not change, nor misfortune, nor 
jealousy, nor wrath, nor anything that flows from passion, or 
emanates from fortune. The deadliest foe to love is custom." 


"I know 

I shall die as my fathers died, and sleep as they sleep ; even so. 
For the ykss of the years is brittle wherein we gaze for a span; 
A little soul for a little bears up this corpse which is man. 
So long I endure, no longer; and laugh not again, neither weep. 
For there is no God found stronger than death ; and death is a sleep." 

It is the last night of the season at the Frivolity Theatre. All 
the best people, and a good many insignificant people, nay, per- 
haps, not a few of the worst people, have left London on their 
autumnal migrations, and it would be quite absurd for Mrs. 
Brandreth to waste her sweetness on an unfashionable town. 
The house is crowded on this last night, though the recess is to 
be only of about six weeks' duration. Wonders are promised 
for next season— a new actor, a new actress, a new play by that 
"eminently successful author Herman Westray ; renovation, 

People who have been intending to see Herman's comedy ever 
since its production flock to the little theatre to-night, to snatch 
their last chance of seeing it at all. The house looks brilliant, 
though the best people are all gone. 

Between nine and ten o'clock Hamilton Lyndhurst strolls into 
Lord Earlswood's box. His lordship has gone to Norway for a 
month's fishing. Mr. Lyndhurst is pale and weary looking. He 
is recognised by some of the men in the stalls, who begin to talk 
about him mysteriously. 

"How ill Lyndhurst looks!" remarks one. ''•I hope there's 
nothing amiss with that Bolivian loan." 

" Don't think it would make any difference to him if there 
was," answers his neighbour. " He never gets hit." 

" Yes ; but they say he's dipped deeply in this Bolivian busi- 
ness, and that it's a safe thing." 

" Depend upon it, if it's hazardous, he has dipped in and come 
out again." 

The first speaker looks gloomy. Bolivians weigh heavy upon 
his soul, and visions of prolonged contango vex his spirit. 

Mr. Lyndhurst waits for the end of the piece, looking at the 

Hostages to Fortune. 275 

stage, Tiut seeing very little that goes on there, thoughMiss Belor- 
liioiul is using those fine eyes of hers for his especial advantage. 
When the curtain falls he goes through Lord Earlswood's privi- 
leged door to the stage, and makes his way to Myra's dressing-room. 

" May I come in for a few minutes before you change your 
dress," he asks. 

" Yes, if you will promise to stay no more than a few m'ru es, 
Badgewick, you can get me a cup of coffee," adds Myra to her 
attendant, who vanishes at this command. 

Mrs. Brandreth is seated before her dressing-table, with its 
litter of lace-bordered handkerchiefs, fans, sandal-wood glove- 
boxes, and diamond-cut scent-bottles. There is no vulgar unti- 
diness, only a picturesque confusion of elegant objects. 

" You are looking tired," says Mr. Lyndhurst, dropping into 
one of the luxurious chairs. " I suppose you are rather glad 
your triumphs are suspended for a time." 

" I am more than glad. I don't think I could have endured 
another night of this millwheel work." 

" And yet the play is Westray's. I thought to act in a play of 
his was unqualified delight." 

The dark hazel eyes grow hard and cold ; the flexible lips 

" Yes, I am pleased to act in his pieces, " she answers. " We 
owe each other success." 

" On one side, at least, the debt is large. What would he be as 
a dramatist if you had never given life and meaning to his work? 
I believe he is grateful, poor fellow ! 0, by the way, I saw his 
wife to-day." 


" Yes ; I called on her this morning : found her in sad trouble, 
poor tiling ! That bill of sale has been enforced ; there is a 
bailiff in the house." 

Not for her veiy life could Myra Brandreth, so clever in the 
management of her countenance on ordinary occasions, repress 
the gratified smile which curves her lip for an instant at this 

" So ends Westray's domestic bliss," continues Lyndhurst 
" When the bailiff sneaks in at the door, Eros makes off by the 
window. When a man gives a bill of sale on his household 
goods, depend upon it domestic love, though not a recognised 
item, is included in the inventory." 

" Is not Mrs. Westray's devotion proof against calamity ? I 
thought her a model of conjugal fidelity — the kind of wife one 
reads of in old stories ; a species that is almost obsolete now- 

" Mrs. Westray is foolishly faithful to a husband who has 

276 Hostages to Fortune. 

S'TOwn weary of her. But I think I have given her a proof of 
his falsehood which will weaken her faith in him, if it does not 
destroy her affection for him." 

" You have shown her — " 

"The letter picked up in your drawing-room." 

" And she believes — " 

" Exactly what you and I intended she should believe." 

" Don't say / intended," remonstrates Myra. " It was your 
idea, remember." 

" Perhaps, in its ultimate development. But I know whose 
suggestion gave birth to the idea. Don't let us dispute the 
honour of originating the notion. It was a stroke of genius in 
any case, and the kind of idea that is more likely to spring from 
a woman's brain than from a man's." 

Myra laughs uneasily, opening and closing a large white fan 
with a somewhat nervous movement. Lyndhurst rises from his 
low chair and walks up and down the room thoughtfully. 

" I suppose it is what your strictly honourable people would 
call an ugly business," he says, after a pause ; "and the worst of 
it is that it does not seem likely to succeed." 

"How so?" 

" "We have made that poor creature supremely miserable, 
without opening the door for her release. She is not a bird to be 
snared so easily as you seemed to think." 

" Would you have me think well of her?" asks Myra, with 
lowering brow and angry eyes. " I hate her too much for that. 
Yes, I hate her. It sounds horrible, does it not? She has never 
injured me, you say. Has she not ? She robbed me of the only 
heart I ever cared to win, and should have won but for her. 
What does it matter to me that she was unconscious of that 
wrong ? Her ignorance does not lessen my loss. I have never 
hidden my feelings from you. You are just the one man I trust, 
because you have never pretended to be in love with me, because 
you have never affected to be better than you are, or to belib/e 
'i n creeds you secretly despise. When Lord Earlswood brought 
me the news of Herman's marriage, I went down on my knees 
and swore that if it was in human power to compass the breaking 
of that bond, it should be broken ; that if any act of mine could 
sever man and wife, they should be parted. Am I likely to be 
scrupulous after such an oath as that ?" 

" Well, no, decidedly not. That is what I most admire in you, 
Mrs. Brandreth. You are thorough. You have trusted me and I 
will confide in you. You compliment me upon being what I 
have always acknowledged myself — an unscrupulous man, count- 
ing the creeds and codes for which other men profess reverence, 
by which they pretend to rule their lives, as the convenient for- 

Hostayes to Fortune. 277 

mulaa of judicious hypocrites. The Stock Exchange has shown 
me no difference between the religious man and the infidel. 
Each is alike eager to enrich himself at the cost of his neighbour. 
Perhaps I should have been a better man than I am if I had 
found humanity in general better ; if flatterers and parasites had 
not hung about me like the ivy that enfolds and strangles a tree, 
choking every good impulse ; if women had been true to me, and 
not to my purse ; if one holy or genuine feeling had come in my 
way. It never did. I have found friends false to the core ; 
women mere money-worshippers, ready to sell their souls for a 
diamond parure or a pair of high-stepping horses. Never till I 
saw Mrs. Westray did I learn to admire virtue ; never till that 
hour did I know the meaning of love — love which hopes one day 
and despairs the next ; love which takes the taste out of life's 
common pleasures, and makes existence a slow fever of alternate 
elation and despondency. Should I refrain .from following her 
because she has a husband she loves — a neglectful husband at 
best, who gives his brightest hours to the world, and favours her 
with the mere refuse of his days ? No ; I saw her unappreciated, 
almost forsaken, and I swore to win her. I have bided my time, 
patiently enough so far, but I am growing tired of delay. It has 
been the study of my life to get happiness out of the present. I 
have no future." 
" Your future is just as secure as other people's, I imagine." 
" Not quite. For all men life is an uncertain quantity. 
Preachers enlarge upon that text ad nauseam. But for me the . 
uncertainty is tenfold, and a sudden ending, come when it will, 
inevitable. Three years ago I had occasion to consult a phy- 
sician about certain uncomfortable symptoms in the region of 
the heart — premonitory spasms suggestive of mischief. I had 
not been alarmed without cause. The oracle informed me that 
there was organic disease. I might live five years, or even ten ; 
but I was a doomed man. Some day, without warning, suddenly 
as if struck by a shell, I should drop down, and the comedy or 
tragedy of life would be over for Hamilton Lyndhurst. I went 
to another oracle, only to hear the same sentence. This knowledge 
has not been without its influence on my life. If I am more reckless 
than other men, remember that I stake less. No long future stretches 
out before me, no sluggish old age awaits me. I have tried to 
crowd a century of pleasure into a few years of dissipation ; but 
pleasure after a little while becomes no more than a word, and, for 
any delight it affords, might as well be called pain. I should like 
to taste some purer joy before the fiat is issued. I should like to 
win wife and home — to die at the feet of the woman I love." 

" I suppose you expect me to pity you," says Myra, half in 
scorn. " I think you are a man to be envied." 


2?8 Hostages to Fortune. 

" Why envied ? " 

" Because you stand a chance of escaping old ago — the after- 
taste of all life's sweetness, which, to my mind is more bitter 
than death — wrinkles, gray hai^s, dull eyes, neglect, the sense 
that one is but a ghost among the living — dead long ago, though 
one does not care to tell the world so. Your tree will fall in the 
green, you will be spared the sere and yellow leaf." 

"Perhaps you are right, but autobiography shows us that men 
with sound constitutions and long purses have made rather a 
good thing of old age, and have left the scene regretfully at the 
last. It is hardly a pleasant thing to sit under the Damoclesian 
sword, or to have the skeleton at life's feast such a prominent 
figure in the foreground. My life is too uncertain even for the 
plans that give form and purpose to the lives of other rich men. 
Why should I build houses or picture-galleries, plant gardens or 
buy deer-parks ? Before the mortar is dry I may need that nar- 
rower house we are all travelling towards. No, from the time I 
heard the doctor's decree I have lived as much as possible in the 
present. The only hope I have permitted myself is the hope of 
winning a wife I can love and revere." 

" Marry Miss Belormond. She admires you immensely, and is 
really one of the handsomest women in London." 

A shudder is Mr. Lyndhurst's sole reply to this suggestion. 

" Well, come to me to-morrow morning, and we'll talk over 
this infatuation of yours." 

Hamilton Lyndhurst accepts this invitation for to-morrow as 
his dismissal for to-night, and takes his leave immediately. 
Miss Belormond is standing at the wing as he passes out, gor- 
geously arrayed as Hypolita, queen of the Amazons, in gold 
tissue, with a considerable display of pink silk legs and jewelled 
buskins, and a cataract of somebody else's hair falling over her 
like a mantle, the whole crowned with a glittering helmet. 

She smiles benignly upon Mr. Lyndhurst as he goes by, and 
wonders that he does" not linger for a few minutes' flirtation. 
She has been told that he is one of the richest men in London, 
and a bachelor, and she feels that for such a man she could 
forego her chances of dramatic renown, and content herself with 
the quiet simplicity of domestic life, embellished with servants 
in livery and a three-hundred-guinea barouche. 

floatages to Forlunc. 27'. 


" Lo now, what hearts have men! they never mount 
As high as woman in her selfless mood." 

Editha sucoeeds in finding a charming lodging — not at Wimble- 
don, but at Eoehampton — a rustic-looking cottage with irre- 
proachable geraniums in all the windows, and a good-natured 
maiden lady as proprietress. Here Mrs. Westray brings nurse 
and baby next day, carrying away from Bridge-end House only 
one portmanteau containing her plainest dresses, and a box for 
baby. She allows Selina to show the custodian box and port- 
manteau open, that he may see she is taking nothing that belongs 
to the house — no bronze, or china, or plate. Alas, the fine old 
massive silver from the Priory plate-chests, and all Herman s 
pretty gifts collected in the two years of their married life are 
included in the inventoiy which gives a stranger dominion over 
Mr. Westray's household goods ! But even this fact hardly pains 
Editha now. What matters the shattered home now that love has 
deserted its empty hearth ? Let all things go — memorials of 
happiness departed ! 

After the revelation of that fatal letter, Mrs. Westray has no 
expectation of her husband's return in answer to her summons. 
His going to the scene of war has doubtless been a deeply- 
planned business from first to last. He knew the wreck of his 
home to be inevitable, and cared nothing for it, having new 
hopes and schemes for the future — a home in exile with his 
first love. The letter to Mrs. Brandreth tells that plainly 
enough. When he wrote that letter — on the eve of his departure 
most likely — he had no intention of coming back to England. 
With the same pen he wrote to his wife, touching lightly on his 
difficulties, talking hopefully of retrenchment in the future. 
Specious and cruel letter, meant to lull suspicion, full of promises 
never intended to be fulfilled. 

Broken-hearted, desolate beyond all measure, Editha retires to 
the peaceful shelter of the Roehampton lodging, feeling even in 
her misery that there is an infinite relief in getting quite away 
from that dreadful bailiff. Baby, with infinite love of novelty, 
is pleased with the change in his surroundings, and takes kindly 
to the solitary maiden of the cottage. The rooms are airy and 
exquisitely clean, with that absolute purity which is oftonest to 
be found in a very small house, where the searching eye of the 
mistress espies eveiy grain of dust or lurking cobweb, every 
cloud upon the window-panes, or infinitesimal morsel of flue 
hovering in the fulds of the~'*drapery.- Jane the nursemaid, a 

280 Hostages to Fortune. 

girl of less philosophic temper than Selina, is glad to escape 
from Bridge-end House. 

" It seemed as if there was a cloud hanging over the house 
after that man come in, mem," she remarks, as she attends upon 
her mistress and Master George at tea ; " master away and all, 
too. It's all very well for Selina to take it so easy ; but I never 
lived where there was anything of that kind, and I found it prey 
upon my spirits. I'm sure the way that old gentleman used his 
knife was enough to spoil any one's appetite for their dinner. 
Such a greedy way with him, too. He told us he was a pig for 
Irish stew, and I'm sure he carried out the observation." 

Editha has been three days in this new abode — very quiet 
days. She has written home telling Euth that she has taken a 
lodging at Koehampton for a week ' or two, because the air is 
better for baby. Not a word has she said about the bill of sale 
or Herman's perfidy. Let the tragedy of her life play itself to 
the end. Her lips and her pen will be slow to tell her husband's 
dishonour. There has been no letter from Herman to his wife 
during this time. The Day Star gives a long letter daily. 
Bright, graphic as ever is the betrayer's pen. The fatal second 
of September has come and gone. The battle of Sedan has 
been fought, and Napoleon has laid down his sword. Herman is 
at the scene of action, and his pen depicts that disastrous con- 
flict, the bloody field, the gloomy resignation of the fallen em- 
peror — the stamp of death already on that thoughtful brow — the 
awful despair of the fatalist whom Fate has beaten. 

Editha reads those animated descriptions with a feeling of 
horror. He can write so vividly, he can be so fully master of 
his intellect at the very moment his heart is full of treachery, his 
mind plotting deceit ! Is this the man she has loved and thought 
noblest among mankind — brave, frank, honourable, true ? 

The Day Star gives a few lines to the closing of the Frivolity 
Theatre : 

" Mrs. Brandreth's bijou house will re-open in October, with a 
new comedy from the pen of Mr. Westray, whose genius is allied 
with the fortunes of this charming theatre." 

"She is free now," thinks Editha, "free to follow her old 
lover. I ought to have understood the story of Herman's life 
when I saw Kismet." 

About five o'clock on the third afternoon of Mrs. Westray's 
residence at Koehampton Selina arrives, flushed and warm, after 
her walk up the hilly lane which leads from the Kichmond road 
to this secluded village on the edge of the heath. Selina wears 
her Sunday clothes, the last fashionable thing in black silk jackets, 
a good deal of hay-coloured horsehair at the back of her head, 
and a Parisian bonnet at half a guinea from the Brompton-road. 

uotiunjes 10 fortune. 281 

" 0, if you please, mum," she begins, " I thought I'd better 
step up with it, as it might be of consequence. It came when I 
was a-cleaning of myself, and I didn't lose a hinstant putting on 
my hout-door things before I started to bring it." 

Mysterious address, in which the all-important noun is repre- 
sented by an unidead pronoun. 

" Bring what, Selina ? " asks Editha, while the girl searches in 
a pocket, which is a whole breadth behind the convenient 
position for pockets, and obliges Selina to twist her fingers round 
in an uncomfortable way and make an animated corkscrew of 
herself as she dives into it. 

"Is it a letter?" 

" No, mum, a telegraph from foreign parts." 

" From my husband ! " cries Editha. Her face flushes, hor 
heart beats. He has not forgotten her altogether, even yet. He 
has something important to tell. Is it the bold revealment of his 
guilt, or is he repentant? Is the telegram to announce his 
return to home and loyalty ? 

" 0, do be quick, Selina," she cries piteously, and at last Selina 
extracts the document from a pocket which is absolutely choked 
with a handkerchief, a pair of gloves, — which Selina, finding the 
atmosphere oppressive, has taken off during her walk, — a couple 
of green apples, a memorandum-book, a slate-pencil, the door 
key, a needle-case, and her mother's last letter. 

The telegram is from Ostend. 

" Come at once. I have been taken seriously ill on my way 
home, and am laid up at the H6tel des Ambassadeurs. The boat 
leaves Dover for Ostend at ten P.M. Do not delay." 

"Delay ! " exclaims Editha ; " as if I should waste an instant. 
My dearest one ill and among strangers. Thank God that his 
first impulse was to send for me." 

Forgotten for the moment his treachery, his guilt. Her only 
thought is how she can fly fastest to his side. Unhappily there 
is but one pace for the careless traveller indifferent as to waste 
of time, and the eager lover flying to his mistress, or the fraudu- 
lent bankrupt flying from his creditors. The Dover mail leaves 
at a given hour, the night has but one boat for Ostend. Editha 
hurries a few things into her portmanteau ; divides her small 
stock of money with the nurse ; gives a hundred instructions 
about baby's welfare during herabsence ; kisses and cries over that 
young gentleman for five minutes or so; spends another five minutes 
on her knees in the little white-curtained bedchamber, imploring 
Heaven's protection for her child, and then drives away in a fly, 
with the faithful Selina for an escort as far as the railway-station. 

Ill, seriously ill, says the telegram. Dying, perhaps. The 
wife'a lips move in silent prayer as the fly jolts and jingles 

282 Hostages to Fortune. 

onward upon its journey from suburb to city. Ill, in danger, 
perhaps ! But surely Death will spare him. Heaven will give 
him back to her, made whole in mind and in body, repentant of 
intended falsehood, snatched back from sin's fatal gulf by kindly 
sickness. What better school for self-examination and repentance 
than the quiet of a sick-bed ? She hastens to him — thankful for 
the summons which calls her to his side — fearful but not hopeless. 


lachimo. With five times so much conversation, I should get ground of 
your fair mistress, make her go back, even to the yielding, had I admit- 
tance and opportunity to friend. 

Posilmmus. No, no. 

lachimo. I dare thereupon pawn the moiety of my estate to your ring ; 
which, in my opinion, overvalues it something : hut I make my wager 
rather against your confidence than her reputation : and, to bar your 
offence herein too, I durst attempt it against any lady in the world. 

Poaihumus. You are a great deal abused in too bold a persuasion ; and 
I doubt not you sustain what you're worthy of by your attempt. 

lachimo. What's that ? 

Posihumus. A repulse : though your attempt, as you call it, deserve 
more ; a punishment too. 

Big raindrops begin to fall as the Dover mail leaves murky London 
behind and pierces into the heart of the fair Kentish landscape — past 
homely farmhouses, and orchards where the branches of the apple- 
trees are bending under their burden of fruit, crimson and amber, 
green and russet ; past Gothic villas, with their trim new gardens, 
geometrical flower-beds, year-old gooseberry-bushes, and peach- 
trees stretched upon the new red walls like the fingers of a 
skeleton hand ; past hop-fields, where the vines are climbing to 
the tops of the poles, and stretching out green tendrils to their 
neighbours as in friendly greeting ; past broad fields of tawny 
wheat still waiting the sickle, and vast plains of stubble whence 
the barley has been carried ; and so to the chalky cliffs, and the 
old Boman stronghold standing darkly out against a stormy sky, 
where a young moon rides like a labouring vessel in a sea of clouds. 
The night is rainy and blusterous ; and Editha, travelling for 
the first time alone, follows the railway porter along the slippery 
pier, and knows not into what bottomless pit she may be descend- 
ing, as she gropes her way down to the Ostend boat. Travellers 
dash about wildly in the darkness ; every one acts as if his voyage 
were a matter of life and death, his portmanteau stuffed with 
specie or uncut diamonds, so fearful does he seem lest that 
treasure should be reft from him. Pushed and buffeted by her 

Ifostages to Fortune. 283 

neighbours, Editha reaches the wet deck somehow, and pauses 
there bewildered by the ferocious snorting of: the engine, which 
seems to be remonstrating savagely against enforced inaction. 
The rain drives her down to the Indies' cabin. Who knows not 
that awful scene, that modern embodiment of the Black Hole at 
Calcutta ? — an airless cupboard, with cushioned shelves, on which 
bundles of limp humanity lie helpless, motionless, their heads 
tied up in pocket-handkerchiefs, perhaps, like victims about to be 
offered on the altar of Poseidon, who is already flapping against 
the sides of the vessel with prophetic threatenings. One prostrate 
female lies on the floor. The steward — a permitted intruder, 
like the dusky guardian of a seraglio — distributes basins 
methodically and unblushingly, cheerfully even, as if they were 
crockery pools dealt out to the players in some round game. 

From this hideous scene Mrs. Westray recoils horror-stricken, 
and reascends to the deck. The steamer is plunging in a 
wretchedly head-foremost fashion through the waves. Dover's 
lamplit crescent recedes, the castle bobs up and down among 
the clouds above the hill. The steamer gives a lurch, and makes 
as if it would turn head over heels, then reels frantically sideways 
like a shying horse. Shiny men in oilskin coats and sou'-westers 
stagger up and down the deck. No woman's form relieves the 
dismal scene, and Editha feels that conventionality compels her 
to return to that hideous den below. She goes down again, finds 
a corner to sit in — room to lie down there is none — and tries to 
lose her sense of the surrounding horror in sleep. 

Sleep while Herman awaits her — ill, perhaps dying ! That 
were indeed impossible. She shuts her eyes and thinks of him, 
prays for him, prays for her darling boyatKoehampton, separated 
for the first time from his mother. She prays while her fellow- 
passengers groan and perform a concerted piece upon the theme 
of sea-sickness. 

Dawn, bleak, gray, and ghastly, a dismal struggle betwixt 
light and darkness, and the vessel, rolling, pitching, creaking, 
grumbling, blundering, grinds against the landing-stage at 
Ostend. Every one rushes frantically to the gangway or struggles 
vindictively for luggage ; touts, porters, and custom-house 
officials clamour hoarsely in the dim light. A . dreary stretch of 
quay ; white houses glimmering faintly in the distance, dingier 
buildings looming dark in the fore-ground ; a slate-coloured sea 
heaving and surging in the back-ground ; of these things Editha 
is dimly conscious, as she contrives to distinguish her portman- 
teau from the mass of luggage, and to get it conveyed to the 
r-"stnm-house. Here a weary interval : portmanteaus laid out on 
;i long counter like bodies awaiting dissection ; travellers delivering 
uji their keys ; hotel-touts lauding their several establishments on 

284 Hostages to Fortune. 

every side ; Flemish, indifferent French, broken English — Babel 
on a small scale. 

" H6tel des Ambassadeurs, family hotel — baths — table-d'-hote 
— English spoken — all that there is of most comfortable," says a 
man at Mrs. Westray' s side, trying to possess himself of her 

" Yes ; that is the hotel I want to go to," she replies eagerly. 
" Is it near ? " 

" But yes, madame, it is all near. But you will have a carriage 
for the luggage," he adds persuasively, the hotel in question being 
nearly a mile off. " Will madame have the goodness to indicate 
to me her packets ? " 

Editha points out her solitary portmanteau, and gives the man 
the key thereof. By the exercise of some occult influence upon 
the custom-house officer he gets the portmanteau opened, glanced 
into, locked, and handed over to him with expedition, and leads 
the way out on the quay, where he hands Mrs. Westray into a 
dilapidated vehicle drawn by two gray horses about the size of 
one English horse cut in two, and of less than one-horse-power. 
The commissionaire mounts the box, the starveling horses 
shamble away from the custom-house over the stoniest road 
Editha has ever travelled, the stunted coach jingles through the 
sleeping town of Ostend — not the gayest of towns even in its 
waking hours, and by this half light a street of tombs, yawning 
portecocheres leading to family vaults, a shabby church or two, and 
a noble expanse of paving-stones. 

On goes the joggling equipage, the small gray horses tugging 
desperately as if they were dragging Cleopatra's Needle, past the 
town and to the more aristocratic portion of Ostend facing the 
digue. Here the vehicle shoots off at a tangent, the driver 
screaming vociferously and houpla-ing to an alarming extent, 
and suddenly twists into the courtyard of a big white hotel. 
Huge black letters along the facade of the mansion proclaim it 
to be l'Hotel des Ambassadeurs. 

A half -a wakened waiter stands in the doorway, waiting for any 
victims from the Dover boat, and plucks up a little animation on 
seeing Editha alight from her coach-and-pair. Night is still at 
odds with morning ; everything has a dim and dismal look. The 
hall and windows of the hotel are dark and shadowy, redolent of 
yesterday's table-d'hote. 

" Is Mr. Westray here ? " Editha asks eagerly. 

" An English monsieur ? Yes." 

" Is he better ? " she asks. And as the man stares at her 
stupidly and is dumb, she adds impatiently, " Take me to his 
room this moment, please. You can pay the coachman after- 
wards. I am Mrs. Westray," 

Hostages to Fortune. 285 

" But certainly, madame. It is on the second floor. This way, 
madame ; take the trouble to ascend that step." 

The man leads the way up a broad shallow staircase, shining 
and slippery, along a corridor on which innumerable doors open, 
up another flight of stairs, past a landing where two plaster 
nymphs admire themselves in a large mirror, into another corridor, 
where he selects a door at which to knock. 

" Entrez," says a voice within. Not Herman's voice assuredly. 
No sick man's voice was ever so deep and full. The doctor's, perhaps. 

Mrs. Westray enters, and the waiter runs down-stairs to pay the 
driver of that nondescript vehicle with the ragged gray horses. 

She finds herself in a large sitting-room, furnished in the usual 
fashion ; flowered-tapestry curtains ; amber damask-covered 
chairs and sofas, which look as if they were meant for anything 
rather than repose ; a centre table, with an impracticable ink- 
stand ; gilded vases of artificial roses on the velvet-covered mantel- 
piece ; gilded clock, marking just the remotest hour of the twelve. 
A lamp burns dimly on a side-table ; one uncurtained window, left 
ajar, looks out on the dull gray sea. The waves roar monotonously 
in the distance ; a pale-yellow light glimmers on the horizon. 

The room is empty, but an open door communicates with an 
inner room. The sick man's chamber, no doubt. Editha hurries 
towards this door, but before she can cross the room a man comes 
out of that inner chamber — Hamilton Lyndhurst. He is very 
pale, and has a haggard look in his eyes as of one who has out- 
watched the night. 

" You here," she cries, with a look of aversion, u with my hus- 
band ! " 

" Here, dear Mrs. Westray, but not with your husband," he 
answers, going to the outer door. He has locked it and put the 
key in his pocket, while Editha stands in the middle of the room 
looking about her in sheer bewilderment. 

" Where is Herman ? " she cries distractedly ; and then seeing 
what he has done, she asks with sudden horror, " Why do you 
lock that door ? " 

" To the best of my belief, Mr. Westray is with the belligerents 
in the vicinity of Sedan. Why have I locked that door, Editha ? 
Only because I would be heard by you patiently till I have told 
all my story. You might refuse to hear the end if I did not put 
some constraint on you. On my honour as a gentleman there is 
no shadow of disrespect in the action. Alone in a desert island 
my reverence for you would triumph over every meaner feeling. 
The task I have set myself is to win you, Editha ; to touch your 
heart, to convince your understanding, to prove to you that love 
such as mine is not lightly to be scorned. Forgive me if I begin 
with a stratagem," 

23G Ilostages to Fortune. 

" Your honour," she echoes, as if she had heard only the 
beginning of his speech, "your honour as a gentleman! It is 
blasphemy against the name of gentleman for you to make such 
an appeal. It was you, then, who sent me this lying message 
telling me that my husband was dangerously ill ? Thank God, 
that is not true ; thank God, even though I have been duped and 
fooled by your treachery. And now, sir, open that door, and let 
me leave this house. The next boat will take me back to England." 

She takes a hurried survey of the walls, looking for a bell 
which she may ring, summoning the servants of the house. In 
a large hotel, full of people, she cannot be long in the power of 
this traitor. There is no bell to be seen. 

Lyndhurst interprets that eager look. 

" Do not trouble yourself about the bell," he says ; " it has 
been removed." 

" Will you unlock that door ? " she asks again desperately. 

" Not till you have listened to me, Editha ; not till you have 
beard me plead my cause. You could dismiss me contemptuously 
from your own house. There you were all-powerful. You did 
not spare me. Love, even the guiltiest, should claim a noble- 
minded woman's pity. You were without compassion for my 
love, which, I declare to you, is not altogether an unholy passion. 
It was strong enough to outlive your scorn, humble enough to 
pardon insult, steadfast enough to persevere in the face of re- 
jection. You are my prisoner, Editha. Call me treacherous, if 
you like — brutal, if you like. You must and shall stay with me till 
you have heard all that a man who loves as I do can urge in ex- 
tenuation of the wrong inseparable from love that comes too late." 

"I will not hear you," she answers, calmer in this hour of peril 
than he had thought to find her. "You are talking to the winds 
when you talk to me. Can you not understand that there may 
be such a woman in the world as a wife who loves her husband 
and fears her God ? Has your experience of life been so infamous, 
that you believe that a few specious speeches can turn a wife 
from her fidelity to the husband of her choice ? Were I the 
most miserable creature that ever unhappy fate linked to a man 
she despised, you could not think worse of me than you do, when 
you suppose that any baseness of yours, any snare you may set 
for me, will prevail over faithful and honest love." 

" Faithful to a man who is weary of you — faithful to a man 
who never really loved you ! Faithful in the face of that letter 
which I gave you the other day — that letter with its boldly- 
avowed infidelity ! No, Edidia; I do not suppose you weak- 
ininded enough for such slavish adherence to a violated tie, when 
love, real and perfect love, is at your feet. Consider, dearest, 
between what different destinies your choice lies. With Westray, 

ujsiwjcs w I'urtune. 287 

neglect, abandonment, the humiliating pity which the world 
bestows on a slighted wife, poverty, a mined home ; with me, 
love unbounded, wealth without limit, all that this world we live 
in offers of the brightest and best — " 

" And dishonour — the consciousness of being the vilest among 
women 1 " says Editha, interrupting him. " You are wasting your 
eloquence, Mr. Lyndhurst. Your knowledge of my sex may be 
profound, but you have mistaken the temper of the woman you 
have tried to ensnare. Open that door and let me pass. Were 
we to argue for an hour, the result would be the same. Your 
pretended love inspires no feeling in my mind but loathing. My 
contempt is so great that I do not even fear you." 

The brave clear eyes looked at him boldly, bright with invincible 

"Do you not fear me?" cries Hamilton Lyndhurst passion- 
ately. " Beware how you boast. Do you think when I lured 
you here I had not made up my mind to win you? Ah, my 
beloved, you do not know what love is in a man who stakes all 
upon one cast. Yes, I am a traitor ; granted— a traitor and no 
gentleman. I staked my honour against so high a prize, that, 
let me but win the game, and I am happy in dishonour. I can 
afford even that you should hate me for a little while, Editha, 
for in the end you will learn to love me. Love such as mine must 
prevail. Do not provoke me to desperation. Consider what 
kind of man I am before you pay devotion with contempt. For 
this world's opinion I care nothing. I fear nothing beyond or 
above this world. I am told that I have not very long to live. 
I am warned that if I would taste the sweetness of life, I must 
win my earthly Elysium quickly. I am no Ulysses, to be beaten 
and buffeted about the world for a score of years, and find home 
and wife at the las£ Now — now while the last glow of youth 
still warms my heart — now I must be blessed. Do you think I 
am a man to let go my prize, having sworn to win it ? " 

" I think you are a villain and a coward, and that God is above 
us both," answers Editha unflinchingly, -'and I repeat that I 
do not fear you." 

_ "Fear the world's malice if you defy me," says Lyndhurst in a 
sibilant whisper, such as woman's first tempter may have breathed 
into the ear of Eve. " Fear your lost good name, your husband's 
contempt — fear to face the society whose laws you outraged 
when you came to meet me here. Tell the world your story, and 
see how readily you will be believed. The world believes only 
the worst Appear before the world injured, a dupe, a sufferer, 
faithful in calamity, and see what tender treatment you will have 
of its charity. Without my protection, without my love, you 
are a ruined woman. As my wife, wealth and power will be 

288 Hostages to Fortune. 

yours. Your innocent soul cannot reckon the master-sway wealth 
holds over the meanness of mankind." 

For the first time since she has entered the snare Hamilton 
Lyndhurst sees his victim tremble. But it is indignation and not 
fear which makes her frame quiver as she draws herself to her 
fullest height, sternly confronting him. 

" Once for all, will you open that door ? " she asks. 

•' Not till we have come to terms — not till you have given me 
a promise that shall bind your fate with mine from this day. 
You will leave this room on my arm, in the face of society, com- 
promised as Mrs. Westray, pledged to be my wife so soon as the 
law can undo one knot and tie another." 

Her breath comes faster. She looks at him desperately, like a 
hunted fawn round which the dogs are closing in a deadly circle. 

"You mean it — you swear that you will not let me go ?" 

" Not till I have your promise." 

" And if I cry aloud for help — call the people of the house ?" 

" Do you think I would let you be heard ? Except the man 
who admitted you just now, there is not a creature astir in the 
house, and I daresay he has crept back to his hole to snatch a 
last half-hour's sleep. No, Editha ; I am master of the 
situation, and I am resolved to use my power to the uttermost." 

" Then God help and pardon me in my extremity 1 " she cries, 
with clasped hands and eyes uplifted, and with one wild rush 
flies to the window which stands ajar, the long casement window 
opening on a frail balcony. 

Her hand is on the latch ; another moment, and she will have 
thrown herself over that shallow balcony to certain death. 
Quick as Lyndhurst is, he is not a breath too soon. He grasps 
her arm, and drags her back into the room. 

" Great God," he cries in a choking voice, " she is mad ! " and 
holds her for an instant motionless, powerless in his agonised clutch. 

Suddenly, as she looks at him half in terror, half in anger, his 
face changes, with an awful mysterious transformation she has 
never seen before in the human countenance, haply may never 
see again. He gives one faint choking cry, tears at his breast 
with convulsive hand for a moment, and then falls like a stone 
figure overturned at its base — falls with a shock that makes the 
room tremble, and lies at her feet, still as clay. 

Her shriek rends the air. All the passion and terror of the 
last half -hour finds relief in that wild cry. Not once, but again 
and again she screams, with frantic appeal for help from man or 
Heaven ; but the figure stretched at her feet, face downwards, 
does not stir. 

Involuntarily she looks round again for the bell that is not 
there. Needless the bell now, for her criee have been heard. 

Hostages to Fortune. 289 

There is a hurrying of feet in the corridor, a vigorous hand tries 
to open the door vainly. Voices are heard consulting hastily ; a 
few moments' delay, and the key is in the lock, the door opens, 
and foremost among an eager little group enters Herman Wostray. 

Those piercing shrieks have brought him — a wakeful sojourner 
in a room half a dozen doors off — to the help of a stranger. 

It is something more, than a common surprise to find that the 
wild appeal for succour came from his wife. Stranger, more 
awful is it, to see that prostrate figure with hidden face. 


She flings herself upon his breast, sobbing hysterically. 

" 0, thank God, thank God 1 " she cries. " I knew He would 
not abandon me in my peril. " 

" Editha, in Heaven's name what brings you here ? " asks 
her husband, stupid with amazement. He has been roused from 
an uneasy morning sleep by those 'awful screams of hers, has 
hurriedly huddled on his clothes, half -awakened, and is not in a 
condition for grasping the meaning of things quickly. 

"I'll tell youby-and-by," shesobs. " Will some one," looking 
round at the agitated group in the doorway, " see to him ?" 

She points, with a look of loathing, to the fallen figure. 

The bystanders hurry forward and kneel down beside it, 
and try to raise the massive shoulders, heavy as marble. 

" Who is that man ? " cries Herman. 

" Your friend, Mr. Lyndhurst." 

" Editha ! ' he exclaims, looking at her with unutterable horror. 
Of all names that could be spoken at such a moment, there is 
none more ominous to Herman Westray's ear than this. 

" Yes, he fell down in a fit just now. Had they not better 
fetch a doctor ? " 

_ " Let him die where he fell ! " cries Herman, beside himself. " How 
did you come to this place ? Why do I find you with that man ? " 

He is reckless who hears him. Happily there are no English 
listeners ; but the fact is indifferent to him in Ids passion. No 
sense of prudence restrains him — no consideration for his wife's 
reputation ties his tongue. 

" What brought you here ? " he gasps. 

" I came in answer to a telegram from you, telling me that you 
were here, dangerously ill — telling me to lose no time." 

" I sent no such telegram. Show me the message." 

She feels for it in her pocket. Even in her confusion she 
remembers putting that telegram in her pocket after reading it 
for about the twentieth time on board the steamer, by the dim 
light of the cabin lamp. It is not to be found. She must have 
dragged it out with her handkerchief, and dropped it perhaps in 
that wretched haekj^ey-coach whictferought her to the hotel. 

290 Hostages to Fortune. 

"I have lost it ; but it does not matter." 

" Not in the least," answers Herman in a curious tone ; and at 
this moment the attention of husband and wife is called from 
their own affairs to that prostrate figure round which the hotel 
people are gathered. They have raised it from the ground, and 
the awful face looks up at them, the eyes fixed and open, staring 
horridly as in some sudden terror. Gray and dull is that stony 
face ; heavily hang those limbs, as they lift up the figure that 
was once Hamilton Lyndhurst, and lay it on the amber-covered 
sofa. They fall back when their work is done, in a shuddering 
group, murmuring compassionately, 

" Le pauvre homme — un si belle homme — mort comme 9a, si 
subitement ; un vrai coup de f oudre ; mais e'est effrayant." And 
then some one cries, 

" Mais cours done, Georges ; va trouver un medecin." 

Little need of a doctor to affirm the appalling fact. The 
arrest has come. The sentence has been pronounced. The sel- 
fish sensual soul, which has never known an aspiration beyond 
earthly happiness, has gone to its account. 

" Come away, Editha," Herman says sternly ; " come away from 
this revolting scene." And then he says in a whisper, close to 
her ear, as they leave the room together, " Your lover has not 
enjoyed his triumph long. Retribution has trodden on the heels 
of guilt a little closer than usual." 

She looks at him in blank amazement. Can he doubt her ? 
Can any evidence shake his faith in her purity ? 

She has believed him guilty on the testimony of his own hand- 
writing, but she is not the less wonder-stricken to find he can 
suspect her. And yet her presence here with that dead man is 
circumstantial evidence strong enough to blast the reputation of 
a modern Lucretia, 

" If you have tears prepare to shed them now." 
Lord Eaelswood, bored to death in a Norwegian pine-forest, is 
recalled suddenly to the boredom of civilisation by a telegram 
brought by a mounted messenger from Christiana, a messenger 
who has been two days finding his lordship. 

" Bless my soul ! " exclaims Lord Earlswood before opening 
the missive, " is it to say the Frivolity is burnt down, I wonder ? 
Theatres generally are burnt down in the long-run. Carpenters 
will indulge in a foolish preference for lighting their pipes in a 
hurry, and throwing unextinguished lucif er matches among their 
shavings. Good for the building interest ! Haw ! " 

Hostages to Fortune. 291 

Thus to liia faithful companion, Captain Shlookcr, late of the. 

" Hope it isn't the theatre," says Shlooker sympathetically. 
" Jolly little box. Nicest house in London. Splendid woman, 
Mrs. Brandreth." 

" Don't say tliat again," exclaims his lordship irritably, " it's not 
original. You've made the same remark half a dozen times a 
day for the last fortnight." 

" Well, there isn't much to talk about in a Norwegian hut. No 
morning papers, no club, no corner. And you're not a great hand 
at starting subjects." 

" I expect to be talked to," replies Earlswood grandly. 

" As to remarking that Mrs. Brandreth is a sple — well, I won't 
say it again, that is only a spontaneous burst of feeling on my 
part. 1 admire her immensely." 

" Bother your admiration 1 I don't believe you'd stand a box 
of Jouvin's gloves to save her from starvation." 

'' Hadn't you better read your telegram, and see if the Frivolity 
is burnt down ? " inquires the Captain blandly. 

His lordship thus reminded, hitches a glass into his eye, and 
peruses the document in question. 

It tells him nothing about the Frivolity Theatre. The message 
is from the housekeeper at Redhill Park, telling him that Lady 
Earlswood is dangerously ill, and urging his immediate return. 

The message has been sent out from the head office three days 
ago — at least three days more must elapse before he can reach 
England. His presence at that sick bed can be of little use, can 
afford small solace, he thinks, for her ladyship and he have been 
at daggers drawn throughout the seven years of their wedded 
life, liaving a difEerent way of thinking upon every subject. 
But he is quite ready to obey the summons ; and he and Captain 
Shlooker concentrate their somewhat limited intellects into one 
focus, and apply themselves to the task of getting back to Eng- 
land as soon as possible. 

They have an arsenal of guns, a small cartload of fishing- 
rods and tackle, a few hundredweight of tinned provisions and 
ottnr stores to dispose of, to say nothing of their portable 
dwell, ng-house, portable boats, and other gear. These they leave 
to be packed and shipped by guides and servants, two of which 
incumbrances Lord Earlswood has brought in his train. Then, 
unattended save by his faithful shadow, Captain Shlooker, Lord 
Earlswood starts for England. 

He disembarks from the Norwegian steamer at Hull, within 
four days of his receipt of the telegram from Redhill Park, just 
in time to catch the London express, without stopping to have 
so much as a " branda^mrl iindn "■ nn Captain Shlookcr remarks 

292 Hostages to Fortune. 

pathetically on the platform, his easy-loving soul disapproving 
this uncomfortable haste. 

" What's the use of being in such a hurry, Earlswood ? " ho 
remonstrates ; " we might just as well have stopped for a Turkish 
bath and a bit of dinner, and gone up by the mail. I feel as if 
I'd been living up a chimney. You can't do any good at Eedhill." 

" I know that," answers the imperturbable nobleman ; " but 
I've been sent for, and it's only civil to go. I should like to 
shake hands with Elfrida before she dies." 

Lady Earlswood is the fifth daughter of the Earl of Mercia, 
an intensely Saxon nobleman, who has chosen his children's 
names from the chronicles'of the Heptarchy. 

" How do you know she's going to die ? " asks the Captain dis- 
contentedly. It is hard lines for a healthy young parasite to be 
deprived of those comforts and luxuries which are the sole re- 
compense of his labours. "I daresay it's only a whim sending 
for you in this way, and we might just as well have stopped and 
had another go at the salmon." 

"I'll tell you what it is, Shlooker," replies Lord Earlswood 
sternly. "If you don't want to go to London, you can stay 
where you are. I can exist without you. We shall have to part 
company at the Great Northern terminus, in any case. You can't 
go to Itedhill with me, you know." 

" Of course not ; but I'm coming to London with you, any- 
how. A fellow must grumble a little now and then, and that 
steamer was such a beastly hole." 

"As for Lady Earlswood sending for me out of caprice," 
pursues his lordship presently, when they are comfortably seated 
in a coupe, puffing away at their patagas as they fly over the level 
shores of Humber, " that's not likely. In the first place she's a 
strong-minded woman ; and in the second, she hates me like poison." 

" A little wrong here ? " interrogates the Captain, tapping his 

" Not the least in the world. Awfully sensible woman, but 
disgustingly religious — Low, you know ; walked out of church if 
she saw a fellow go up the pulpit stairs in his surplice ; always 
psalm-singing ; played hymn tune's on a harmonium all Sunday 
evening when she wasn't in church, and played 'em dooced bad 
into the bargain — more bellows than toon, you know ; went in 
for district-visiting, and used to go and sing hymns over the 
patients in the infirmary. I never sat down to dinner with her 
without being afraid of smallpox, or measles, or something 
revolting of that kind. Then she called eveiything sinful, except 
howling and district-visiting. She was always sitting in judg- 
ment on me, and prophesying that Providence would take it out 
of me in some fearful way for keeping race-horses. Used to 

Hostages to Fortune 2D3 

wonder I could go to the City and Suburban without fearing I 
should be struck dead. Heard that I'd been seen at the Alhambra, 
and asked me if I di .n't expect a judgment. 'No,' says I, 'I'm 
not concerned in any chancery proceedings ; ' and then she 
shows me the whites of her eyes, and talks about my profanity. Now 
a fellow does not get married for that kind of thing, you know." 

" Certainly not ; uncommon hard upon a fellow ; regular sell," 
assents the Captain, sympathetically. 

" Lord Mercia was a heavy swell of the old school," says his 
lordship, inclining to confidence. "No end of ancestry, but very 
little money ; left a widower with eleven children, eight of them 
daughters ; let his house in Grosvenor-square furnished, spent 
most of his time in chambers in the Albany, while his eight 
daughters — all with Saxon names, and all sandy-haired — vege- 
tated at his castle in the north. The match was my mother's 
doing ; she thought Elfrida's piety would keep me in the right 
path. But one may have too much of a good thing, you know. 
If she'd drawn it a little milder, I could have borne it ; but Sam 
Weller's deputy Shepherd was a fool to her in the matter of 
preaching, and she hasn't his humanising leaning towards pine- 
apple-rum- and-water." 

Captain Shlooker considers his patron deserving of infinite pity. 

After this the conversation drifts towards horse-racing, and the 
two gentlemen discuss the probabilities as to the Doncaster Cup 
and Leger. They part company at the terminus, the Captain 
sympathetic and depressed, not quite seeing how he is to dispose of 
himself during the dull season, now that the Norwegian trip is " off." 

The September day is drawing to a close as Lord Earlswood 
drives in an open fly from the station to Kedhill Park, that patri- 
monial estate of his of which, during the last six years, he has 
seen very little The sun is setting redly behind a distant clump 
of beeches as the fly enters the park by a gate opening into a 
lane that leads to the station. The lodge-keeper's little girl, in a 
lavender-cotton pinafore, runs out to open the gate ; and it does 
not occur to Lord Earlswood to interrogate this child upon the 
state of the lady up at the great house yonder — a square and 
formal building with a Corinthian colonnade and portico. The 
glow of the sunset shines on those straight rows of windows, and 
the same crimson glory is reflected on the placid surface of the 
oblong lake at the bottom of a broad flight of stone steps which 
descends from the terrace before the mansion. A handsome 
house, doubtless, but a vast and stately dwelling-place which 
would need much domestic love, or a world of pleasant company 
to keep it warm. Lord Earlswood has found it too large for 
domestic felicity, too small for matrimonial concord. 

The blinds are not drawn down. All is well with her ladyship, 

294 Hostages to Fortune. 

he thinks, as the fly drives under the lofty portico, never designed 
for the shelter of so plebeian a vehicle. 

The hall door is open, and he sees the black and white marble 
paving, the stone staircase with its double flight, the chilly 
bronze banisters ; for sole ornament two green tubs, containing 
blossomless, fruitless orange-trees, which stand like dusky guar- 
dians on either side of the portal ; altogether as cheerful as an 
ice-house. The grumbling wheels of the fly have made them- 
selves heard in the eternal silence of the place, and the old butler 
comes out to see what convulsion of nature has disturbed the 
repose of the scene. He was the old butler when this present 
Algernon, Lord Earlswood, was a lad at Eton. Algernon has 
grown to manhood, and feels as if his May of life were falling 
into the sere and yellow leaf ; but the old butler seems to him no 
older than in the days of his boyhood. His placid old face 
lights up at sight of his lord, and then grows suddenly grave. 

" How do, Kogers ? How is Lady Earlswood ? " 

Eogers shakes his head dismally. 

" Too late, my lord, I'm sorry to say." 

" Bless my soul, you don't mean — " 

" The funeral took place yesterday, at two o'clock in the after- 
noon. The Honourable Edwy and the Honourable Athelstane 
were chief mourners." 

" It must have been very sudden," says Lord Earlswood, 
shocked by these unexpected tidings. 

He had known that his wife must be seriously ill when she 
allowed him to be summoned, but he had not supposed that she 
was on her deathbed. 

" Her ladyship had been ailing for some time, my lord," replies 
Eogers. " She caught a cold last winter attending evening 
church, it being against her principles to have the horses out on 
Sunday, and the cold hung about her and fixed itself on her 
chest. I daresay if she had obeyed the doctor she might have 
shaken it off, but she wouldn't give up her districk-visiting." 

" No," interrupts an awful voice, which echoes fearfully in the 
stony hall. " She lived like a martyr, and she died like one. 
Blessed will be her reward beyond the jasper sea." 

The voice, hollow and dismal though it is, is a female voice, 
and proceeds from a tall square-shouldered lady in deepest mourn- 
ing. She is a being comjjosed of angles. Her elbows are square, 
her jaw is square, the ends of her bony fingers are as square 
as the finger-tips of a hard-working carpenter. She has a cold gray 
eye, which assumes a stony look as she gazes at Lord Earlswood. 

" I — I hope her illness was not a very painful one," says his 
lordship, confused by this unlovely apparition. " As for her life 
being martyrdom, I can hardly see that. She took her own 

Hostages to Fortune. 295 

way in everything, spent as much money as she liked, and alto- 
gether, you know, lived her- own life. I can't see what more 
any woman can want." 

•' There are some women whose human hearts sigh for something 
more than this ; there are some who desire fidelity in a husband," 
says the accuser, holding Lord Earlswood with her glittering eye. 

■' 0, come, you know," says the accused, " we had better let 
bygones be bygones. All the world knows that Lady Earlswood 
and I were never suited to each other." 

" The angels in heaven know a great deal more, Lord Earls- 
wood," returns the awful female. 

" Well, since I am too late to be of any use," says the wretched 
nobleman, who feels helpless as a fly that suddenly finds itself 
i;i the grip of a full-bodied spider, " I may as well go back to 
tow ii by the next train. I'm rather used up, travelling post- 
haste from Norway — sea voyage, and all that kind of thing. 
You haven't dismissed the fly, have you, Eogers? " 

" Yes, my lord ; I thought you would stay the night." 

" 0, but hang it, you know, I've no things." 

" I can telegraph to your lordship's man," suggests the butler. 

" My lordship's man was left behind in Norway to pack my 
traps. I must get back to town to-night. I can have a carriage 
of some kind, I suppose," adds the master of the house, meekly. 

" Of course, my lord ; I'll order the brougham. The last 
train leaves at 9.40." 

" Gracious powers ! " thinks his lordship ; " and it is only just 
eight. At the mercy of this fearful woman for an hour and 
forty minutes ! " 

This fearful woman is Miss Gregory, the late Lady Earls- 
wood's companion and chief taady. There have been secondary 
toadies, in the persons of the housekeeper and my lady's own 
maid : but Miss Gregory — a lady of masculine education and 
Low Chureh views — has been the ruling spirit of the household. 
Very hard has been her rule. Eogers, the old butler, rejoices in- 
wardly that the end has come. Lord Earlswood, havingan hour 
and a half to dispose of, looks about him curiously. He is rather 
glad to see his ancestral home again, after a lapse of six years. 

" It is not half a bad place," he tells himself in his modern 
slang, that shorthand system of English which some of his order 
affect. With a little taste— Myra Brandreth's taste, for instance, 
her fine appreciation of form and colour— the spacious orderly 
mansion might be made beautiful. In its present bare and 
formal condition it is more like the cardboard model of a house 
than a house where people live. Lord Earlswood goes into the 
drawing-room— a lofty apartment, with a superb cornice, five 
long windows, a maxilla, mauiakiiece -by Flagman, and nothing 

296 Hostages to Fortune. 

else for the eye to dwell upon. The furniture is meagre and 
stiff, the drapery is dull and heavy ; not an enlivening apart- 
ment, by any means. There stands Lady Earlswood's har- 
monium — that instrument which has known only hymn tunes, 
which never in its wasted life breathed the melody of Mozart, or 
swelled with the mighty harmonies of Beethoven, or sung in 
dulcet tones the plaintive strains of Mendelssohn. 

Miss Gregory follows her victim into that cheerless drawing- 
room ; she is not going to let him off too easily. Loyalty to the 
dead, and an innate love of making herself unpleasant, which is 
a feature of Miss Gregory's character, demand that his life 
should be made a burden to him for the next hour and a half. 

" Perhaps, Lord Earlswood, in the brief hour that you are able 
to spare from the giddy vortex of fashionable life, you would 
like to hear the particulars of my beloved patroness's last ill- 
ness ? *° she begins with stately civility, as Lord Earlswood walks 
about the room and looks out of the five windows, with the air 
of expecting to see a different landscape from each. 

" Thank you, ma'am," he says, in his blunt fashion ; " I don't 
particularly care about hearing descriptions of illnesses. It can't 
do any good, you see, dwelling upon that kind of thing ; and 
it's very painful for all parties." 

" Not to me," replied Miss Gregory, removing a solitary tear 
from the bony bridge of her nose with a black bordered hand- 
kerchief. " I love to talk of that saintly soul ; it relieves my bursting 
heart." And Miss Gregory breathes hard, and gives a gasp, which 
seems to indicate that her dress is too tight across the chest. 

" She — she did not suffer much in her last illness, I hope ? " 
says Lord Earlswood gently. 

" She was buoyed up by a mind superior to mortal agony," 
answers Miss Gregory. " Humanly speaking, her complaint was 
a trying one, but her burden was lightened for her." 

" I'm glad to hear it. She had doctors who understood her 
case, I hope?" 

" She had the best that human science could afford. They 
understood her case well enough ; but there was not one of them 
lofty-minded enough to understand her — blessed martyr ! " 

Lord Earlswood's patience suddenly deserts him ; and he turns 
somewhat sharply upon Miss Gregory — so sharply that, the 
lady's eyes being fixed in the gaze of abstraction, he almost 
makes her jump. 

" Perhaps, when I inform you that I consider your manner of 
referring to my late wife is very offensive to me, you'll be kind 
enough not to repeat it," he remarks sternly. " My lawyers and 
Lady Earlswood's lawyers know the terms of our separation ; 
and they know that her ladyship had no cause for complaint, 

Hostages to Fortune. 297 

either as to my liberality in monetary matters, or my willing- 
ness to make any arrangements conducive to her happiness. I 
don't understand being lectured in my own house by a stranger." 

"A stranger to you personally perhaps, Lord Earlswood, but 
not a stranger to your lamented wife, or to the sorrows that 
wrung that trusting heart." 

" We'll drop that part of the question, if you please, ma'am," 
interjects his lordship. 

"I had the honour to be Lady Earlswood's bosom friend and 
confidential adviser for five blessed years," continues Miss 
Gregory ; " I am not likely to forget her." 

" I am glad to hear it. She has left you a pension, I hope ? " 

" She has left me five hundred pounds. Her modtst way of 
living, her temperate habits and self-denying nature, enabled 
her to save money." 

"Very creditable to her ladyship," replies Lord Earlswood. 
"The house doesn't look as if it had been kept up in a very 
extravagant manner," he adds, glancing round the bare-looking 
room with a shudder. 

There are no costly trifles scattered on tables, no new books or 
magazines, no hothouse flowers, nothing that indicates taste or 
outl a}-. 

" She was superior to the frivolities of her sex," says Miss 
Gregory, removing another tear. These solitary drops ooze from 
her eyes at regular intervals, as if by clockwork. 

" I think, if you've no objection, I'll take a stroll round the 
place," says Lord Earlswood, looking at his watch ; " and if you'll 
tell them to cook me a chop, I should be obliged. I've had 
nothing to eat since I left the steamer." 

Miss Gregory bows her head in dismal assent. She rings the 
bell, and Kogers appears, to whom Lord Earlswood communi- 
cates his desire for a chop. 

" It shall be ready in half an hour, my lord," replies Rogers 
briskly; and Lord Earlswood opens one of the drawing-room 
windows and goes out on the terrace, inwardly rejoicing at his 
escape from Miss Gregory. She cannot very well follow him 
out of doors, and he has done his best to make her understand 
that her conversation is uncongenial. But Miss Gregory is a 
poison who has never tried to make herself congenial to anyone. 
She has gone through life laying down the law, and letting 
worldly-minded people know her mean opinion of them. 

She watches the departing nobleman as he strolls away, re- 
gretting that he has got out of her clutches. 

" Ah," she sighs, " he is master here now. The children of 
Belial will soon take their pleasure in this house, which has been 
the scene of such holy work." 

298 Hostages to K'ortune. 

She breathes this lament with a recollection of prayer-meet- 
ings and missionary preachings that have been held in the spa- 
cious drawing-room. Evange*Kcal noblemen have held forth here, 
to the delight of a mixed congregation, some of whom considered 
it a condescension in a peer to be so anxious about getting to 
heaven. A man of his exalted position might naturally be con- 
tent with earth, and leave his future existence to take care of 
itself ; feeling very sure, like the French Marquise of the old 
regime, that the Great Judge would think twice before con- 
demning so august a sinner. 

Lord Earlswood perambulates the stately garden, which has 
been maintained in perfect order, but barely and meagrely, with 
none of the improvements of modern horticulture. He surveys 
his patrimonial domain in the soft summer dusk, and thinks of 
the change which his wife's death has made in his life. He is a 
free man from to-night — free to marry Myra Brandreth. 

His breath comes quickly at the thought ; it is as if the gates of 
paradise were opened to him. His narrow soul has concentrated 
its affections upon this one object. So far as it is possible for a 
man not great in himself to love greatly, he so loves Myra. 
There is no selfishness in his thoughts of her. He does not con- 
sider that he will be doing her a favour by making her a peeress. 
He thinks of her hufnbly, with an almost infantine simplicity. 

" Will she marBjy me ? " he asks himself. " She is so cold — so 
difficult to understand. I do not even know if she cares for me. 
What hope or favour has she ever given me in return for my 
slavish devotion ? She is gracious enough at times ; at times 
barely civil. How can a fellow reckon up such a woman as that ? 
Sometimes I think she delights in torturing me — in testing her 
power. But I know that all the good days of my life have been 
spent with her, and that I am miserable out of her company." 

He circumambulates the lake, and contemplates the swans 
pensively. They do not approach him with any expectation of 
being fed, after the manner of more favoured birds. Feeding 
swans is one of the frivolities to which the late Lady Earlswood 
has been superior. 

" There's that fellow Westray," pursues his lordship. " I have 
sometimes fancied she was fond of him ; but that could hardly 
be, since there was nothing to prevent his marrying her instead 
of Miss Morcombe. And then how coolly she took the announce- 
ment of his marriage ! No, there can't have been any attach- 
ment between those two, in spite of my suspicions. I believe 
she has flirted with him sometimes, on purpose to make me 
wretched. It's a way women have, when they know that a 
fellow would go through fire and water for them." 

The result of Lord Earlswood's musings is a determination to 

Hostages to Fortune. 299 

proposo to Myra immediately. There must be no suspense now 
that he is a free man. He must know his fate at once. They 
can be married quietly two or three months hence, and travel for 
the first year or so, before they blaze out upon society. What a 
peeress she will make — she who has queened it so well before 
the eyes of men in her mimic world ! How she will beautify 
yonder Palladian abode ! how she- will adorn that fine house in 
Grosvenor-place, which has been let furnished during the greater 
part of his lordship's married life ! 

He sees the future before him, radiant with domestic joy, and 
sees himself the proud and adoring husband of that woman who, 
in his eyes, is the incarnation of all that is enchanting in woman- 
kind. She shines apart, distant from her sisters as a star. 

He goes back to the house in about half an hour, takes his 
modest dinner in the vast gloomy dining-room ; and then, having 
still a quarter of an hour to spare, perambulates the mansion 
with Kogers, whom he keeps with him as a buffer, in case of any 
further attack from Miss Gregory. ■ 

" Dreadful person that woman in black," he says. " When 
is she going away, Kogers ? " 

" I can't say, my lord. Her boxes is not packed, though Mrs. 
Meaves, the housekeeper, gave her a hint yesterday, letting drop 
something to the effect of not supposing as she'd stay after the 
funeral. Perhaps if your lordship — " * 

" No ," cries his lordship energetically, " I'll have no more to 
say to her. She may stay here for another month if she likes, but I 
won't enter into any discussion with her. You may write me 
word when she clears out." 

"Yes, my lord. I hope, my lord," adds Rogers, clearing his 
throat, " that your lordship may be thinking of occupying Red- 
hill yourself before long." 

" It's not unlikely, Rogers. But I should make considerable 
alterations and improvements before I came to live here. The 
place has a dreary look, to my eye." 

" Begging your pardon, my lord, but things have been kept up 
in rather a dreary manner. Miss Gregory has had the ordering 
of almost everything in the household, and she's very near." 

_" She looks it," says Lord Earlswood. " Well, Rogers, things 
will be different when I come to live here." 

" Yes, my lord, thank Heavings ! We shall all look forward 
to the change." 

" In the mean time matters will go on quietly. The house- 
keeper can write to me for cheques as she wants them. You can 
tell the head-gardener that I should like to see the flowej-beds 
looking a little gayer when I come here again. Calceolaria and 
things, you know — plenty of yellows and reds ; and some of 

300 Hostages to Fortune. 

those variegated leafy tilings one sees at South Kensington — 
look rather like mixed pickles, you know." 

"Yes, my lord. Her ladyship was against spending money 
on the garden, and Mr. M'Clacharty was obliged to manage the 
best way he could. He was hard pushed, poor man, to keep his 
cuttings alive through the frosty weather. Miss Gregory said it 
was a sin to bum coals for greenhouses, when so many human 
beings were perishing from cold." 

" Did she give coals to the human beings ?" asks his lordship. 

" Well, no, my lord, not out of her own pocket ! and she set 
her face against my lady providing for the bodily wants of the 
poor, when their souls required so much looking after." 

" I see," replies Lord Earlswood. " That kind of charity never 
goes beyond people's souls. The benevolence that deals in beef 
and bread is a vulgar virtue compared with it." 

The brougham is ready by this time, and Lord Earlswood 
drives away, Miss Gregory surveying his departure from her 
chamber-window, as Elaine watched Lancelot. And his lord- 
ship hears the stealthy raising of the sash, and knows that Miss 
Gregory is watching him ; and Miss Gregory, quick in divina- 
tion, although not moved thereto by so tender a passion as Elaine's, 
knows that his lordship knows that she knows that he knows — 

No, no one less than the Laureate or Lord Dundreary can 
manage that kind of thing. 

Enough that Lord Earlswood steps into his brougham without 
looking up at the fair watcher, and 

" This was the one discourtesy that he used." 


" Out on thee ! Se> ming ! I will write against it ; 

You seem to me as Dian in her orb, 

As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown. 


How comes it now, my husband, 0, how comes it, 

That thou art thus estranged from thyself ? 

Thyself, I call it, being strange to me, 

That, undividable, incorporate, 

Am better than thy dear sell's better part." 

The authorities of Ostend take the stranger's clay, as it were, 
into custody, and do all that is needful to be done after so sudden 
and awful an end of a life not without social importance, the 
authorities being speedily made acquainted with the fact that 
the late Hamilton Lyndhurst has been an English financier of 
great wealth, and a person who has done them honour by dying 
in their town. If he shall furthermore consent — by his heirs, 
executors, and assigns — to be buried in Belgian soil, he will be 
conferring a still greater obligation on that free country. 

Hostages to Fortune. 301 

There seems to be no one nearly interested in him who had so 
many flatterers and followers, so few friends. The flatterers and 
followers wait on the tip-toe of expectation for the particulars of 
their patron's will, but they do not rush over to Ostend to lavish 
their affection on that clay they have so worshipped and caressed 
while it had breath and motion. He lies alone in the large cheer- 
less room at the hotel, and there is not so much as a dog that 
loved him living to wail at the door of the dead. He has come 
over to Ostend unattended. His valet and his lawyer are the 
only two people who come to take possession of his remains. 

The lawyer's first idea is to carry his departed client back to 
England and bury him there, as an expensive and gentlemanlike 
proceeding, appropriate to the late Mr. Lyndhurst's position in the 
money market; but upon opening Mr. Lyndhurst's will, he finds that 
his client has especially forbidden this dreary homage to his clay. 

" Let there be no religious ceremonial, or as little as possible, 
at my burial," he says, almoat in the words of his favourite poet, 
Heinrich Heine, " and let me be buried in the place where I die. 
Let no costly cenotaph record my empty existence, or publish its 
lying tribute to virtues I have neither possessed nor pretended. 
If I must have a tombstone, let it be a plain slab of granite, 
large and massive, inscribed with my name and the dates of 
my birth and death. That is all the history my barren life affords." 

Then comes the disposition of his property. Bitter, bitter 
news for those eager flatterers and followers — the jesters, the 
dancers, the flute-players, his roues, as Philip of Orleans called 
his friends, honouring them, or affecting to honour them, with 
the belief that they would have suffered themselves to be broken 
on the wheel for him. But the Parisians, says Soulaire, took it 
another way, and said these fine gentlemen were " veritables es- 
peces, des gens dignes d'etre roues." 

After a decent provision for all his servants who shall have 
lived with him three years at the time of his decease, Hamilton 
Lyndhurst leaves his estate, real and personal, pictures, porcelain, 
plate, furniture, horses, carnages, books, jewellery to be realised 
within a twelvemonth of his death, and the proceeds thereof 
equally divided between the Asylum for Idiots and the Hospital 
for Incurables. By not so much as the bequest of a mourning 
ring does he acknowledge the virtues of his train. 

The investigation of the circumstances attending Mr. Lynd- 
hurst's death which the dead man's solicitor deems it his duty to 
make is a sore trial for Herman. The Belgian law requires no 
inquest, and the Belgian authorities are easily satisfied ; but the 
solicitor affects a deep interest in the details of his client's death, 
and begs to be allowed to question Mrs. Westray upon the sub- 
ject. The gossip of the hotel has made him acquainted with the 

302 Hostages to Fortune. 

curious circumstances that preceded Hamilton Lyndhurst's death. 
He has been told how Mrs. Westray arrived in the early morning, 
and was shown straight to the apartment of an English traveller, 
who had not given his name, but had stated that he was there to 
meet his wife, whom he expected by the Dover boat. He lias 
been told how the newly-risen household was disturbed by the 
lady's shrieks, and how the English stranger was found lying 
dead at her feet. 

Mrs. Westray declares herself willing to answer any inquiries 
Mr. Lomax, the solicitor, may wish to ask ; and Herman, not 
seeing his way to the avoidance of such inquiries, allows Mr. 
Lomax the desired interview. Quietly and succinctly Editha 
relates how she came to Ostend in answer to a telegram sent in 
her husband's name — came expecting to find him ill at that hotel, 
and that she found herself face to face with Hamilton Lyndhurst. 

" Do you suppose that my lamented client sent you the tele- 
gram ? " asks the lawyer. 

" I can but suppose so." 

" Have you any idea of his motive in sending such a message ? " 

" That is a question which I would rather not answer." 

"And it is a question to which I strongly object," Herman 

" Will you allow me to see the telegram ? " asks the lawyer. 

" I have lost it," Editha answers calmly. 

She confronts her questioner like a statue, marble pale, but 
calmer than most women would seem in such a position. 

The solicitor drops his eyelids and contemplates his boots for 
the next few moments benignly, a look that he is in the habit of 
assuming after having put a trying question to a client of the 
weaker sex. Then he casts a furtive glance at the husband, who 
sits immovable, gloomily watchful. This inability of Mrs. 
Westray's to produce the telegram seems to Mr. Lomax some- 
what like Desdemona's helplessness in the matter of that straw- 
berry-spotted handkerchief. And very likely Mrs. Westray is as 
innocent as Desdemona, poor thing, if one could only know all 
the facts of the case, though circumstances do point very strongly 
to an opposite conclusion. 

Mr. Lomax has telegraphed to London for a surgeon of some 
standing, and this English surgeon has made a post-mortem ex- 
amination in conjunction with the Belgian surgeon who was 
called in on the fatal morning. Medical science has laid bare the 
cause of Mr. Lyndhurst's death. There is nothing suspicious or 
mysterious in that event ; no hint of foul play. There was or- 
ganic disease of the heart, say the surgeons, of long standing. 
Whenever or wherever .the end had come, it would in all proba- 
bility have been just as sudden as it has been. Excitement, a 

Hostages to Fortune. 303 

mental shock of any kind, may have hastened the evil hour, but 
the end has been inevitable for a long time. 

Mr. Lomax (Lomax and Lomax, Viaduct-buildings, E.C.) pro- 
fesses himself grateful to Mrs. Westray for her amiable candour. 
"Curious business, this about the telegram, and of course very 
painful for the lady involved. Ed-centric fellow, poor Lyndhurst, 
always," says the solicitor blandly. But Mr. Lomax is not 
prepared to admit that the telegram was actually sent by his de- 
plored client, unless Mrs. Westray is herself assured upon that point. 

•• I know nothing, except that I was brought to this place by a 
most malicious falsehood, and that by God's help my husband 
was here before me." 

After this there is no more to be said. Mr. Lomax is profusely 
apologetic for his intrusion, and retires, taking with him the con- 
viction that death's dark curtain has fallen prematurely upon a 
drama that might have developed into a very stirring domestic 
tragedy. It is Mr. Lomax's misfortune to contemplate life 
turned the seamy side without, and to be anything rather than an 


"Forsake me not thus. Witness, Heaven, 
What love sincere and reverence in my heart 
I bear thee, and unweeting have offended, 
Unhappily deceived ! Thy suppliant, 
I beg and clasp thy knees ; bereave me not, 
Whereon I live, thy gentle looks, thy aid, 
Thy counsel in this uttermost distress— - 
My only strength and stay." 

TnrxE is a strange coldness in Herman's manner to his wife, re- 
united to him -under circumstances so desperate. In her manner 
to him there is a quiet akin to apathy ; pale, silent, uncomplain- 
ing, she lies on the sofa in the cheerless unhomelike room, littered 
with Herman's open portmanteau, travelling-bag, rug, and 
scattered papers as only a man can litter a room which he inhabits 
but for a few hours. 

She lies with her face hidden from the light, content for the 
moment with the luxury of rest. Her brain has been so racked, 
her heart so tortured, she has feared and suffered so intensely 
within these last broken clays and nights — the actual sum of 
hours she knows not — that there is no room in her brain for 
further anguish. Of troubles to come, of evil threatening her 
future, she takes no heed. Herman is safe and near her, and the 
horror of that awful half -hour in Hamilton Lyndhurst' s room is 
Bwept away like a thunder-cloud which has enfolded her for a 
moment with peril of sudden fiery death, and then has driven 
past, and left her scatheless. 

304 Hostages to Fortune. 

The dead man in his room yonder — that quiet clay so innocent 
of harm — marble face that a sinless child might kiss, placid brow 
with a look of ineffable repose, folded hands as in prayer — hands 
that perchance for thirty years have never been so folded — is 
that Hamilton Lyndhurst ? She cannot link this solemn image 
with the bold bad man who stood before her a little while ago, 
audaciously confessing the treachery that had brought her to his 
presence. She lies resting, and now and then trying uneasily to 
solve that problem, how these two — the harmless dead and the 
wicked living — -can be one and the same ; while Herman paces 
to and fro, in and out of a door that leads into the adjoining room. 
His bedroom is one of a suite, and he has engaged the two addi- 
tional rooms now for his wife's comfortable accommodation. 

She hears him give the order about these rooms, and wonders 
that he should care to remain any longer at this Ostend hotel. 
For her own part, she is nervously anxious to escape from a scene 
whose every association is horrible. 

" Why should we stay here, Herman ? " she asks. " I long to 
get back to baby." 

". No. doubt. Separation from my son must he a sore affliction 
to you," says her husband in that new tone of his which strikes 
so harshly on her ear. 

" We might go back to-night, Herman. There is nothing to 
detain us in this horrid place." 

" I beg your pardon. I do not think you are strong enough 
to travel ; and my own plans are unsettled just now. Until they 
are a little clearer I think it best for us to remain where we are." 

He says no more, but closes the door behind him, and leaves 
her to wonder at his strangeness. 

She is too weak just at first for any feeling beyond a blank 
vague wonder. She lies thinking of the change in her husband 
idly, dreamily, with an undefined sense of trouble and uneasiness. 
He is tired, perhaps ; his brain disturbed and confused, as hers 
is ; worn out by long watches at the scene of war ; harassed by 
the thought of financial trouble at home. There are so many 
reasons to aceount for that strangeness in his manner. 

" And yet it seems hard that he should be unkind to me in this 
time of trouble, when I have such need of all his love," she 
thinks piteously. 

By-and-by, when that dull stupor of actual physical fatigue 
has worn off a little, painful thoughts take a stronger hold of her. 

" Why should he be unkind — he who has never spoken coldly 
to me before to-day ? " she asks herself ; and suddenly, in a breath, 
there flashes upon her the memory of that hideous word whispered 
in her ear as they left the dead man's room : " Lover — your lover! " 

She starts up from her sofa, pale to the lips, but with -resolu- 

Hostage* to Fortune. 305 

firm lighting up her face, and goes into the adjoining room, 
lli-nnaii is seated in a despondent altitude by the table, his head 
leaning on his folded arms, his face hidden. 

She goes softly to him, kneels by his side, and lays her hand 
upon his arm. 

'• Herman, Herman, my husband, my dearest, what is this cloud 
between us ? Look at me, love ; speak to me ! " 

He lifts his head, and turns a haggard face towards her, but his 
eves are lowered gloomily, and refuse to meet hers. 

•' Is there any need for me to tell you what is amiss between 
us ? " he asks. " Pray do not affect surprise. Do not let there 
be any acting on either side. There is nothing left for us but to 
confront calamity calmly. You have nothing to fear from me. 
I love you too well to inflict disgrace upon your name, or to cause 
you unnecessary pain. No newspaper shall ever tell the world 
the causes of our parting — scandal's avid ear shall never be 
gratified by the details of my wrongs or your — folly ; but we are 
not the less parted, Editha" — his voice falters at the name — " for 
ever and for evermore." 

She rises to her feet and confronts him proudly, a crimson spot 
burning in each pale cheek, shame's bitter red. 

'• Herman, you cannot be so wild — so wicked — as to believe 
that I — " The words choke her. 

" Unhappily there are facts which admit but of one construc- 
tion," answers her husband in that cold altered voice of his. " I 
find you here — alone — with that dead man. Can I doubt, as a 
reasoning being in the full possession of my senses, that you had 
come here to meet him ? " 

" As I live," she answers, with an upward look which makes 
the words seem an appeal to Heaven, " I came here in answer 
to a telegram sent in your name — came to my sick husband — came 
and found myself the dupe of a lying message. That dead man 
knows the rest, and God who hears me knows my innocence." 

''Are you not afraid of another thunderbolt like that which 

lared Vivien when she lied as boldly as you lie now ? " asks- 
Herman bitterly. " Do you know that I had hints of what was 
to happen to me? I was brought to this place 'by a friendly 
warning ; some tool or servant of yours or of your lover's be- 
trayed your plans. Yes, i was told that you were to meet him 
here. I was informed that he had been like your shadow at Loch- 
withian — a man I ought to have feared at the outset, knowing 
what I knew of him, but his cunning was deep enough to hood- 
wink me. And then I did myself the honour to think you as 
high above such a tempter as the evening star is above the reach 
of Satan grovelling in his nethermost hell. A foolish mistake. 
Other men's experience should have taught me that all women are 

306 Hostages to Fortune. 

alike — beautiful pictures, smiling, innocent, supernal ; but who 
shall say what foul lining backs the canvas, what obscene devilry 
hides behind the saintly image ? " 

" You knew that I was to meet Mr. Lyndhurst ? " asks Editha, 

" Yes. I had letters ; the first telling me of Lyndhurst's 
visit to Lochwithian, and recommending me to be on my guard. 
I laughed at this warning, secure in my belief in you. The next 
letter spoke more plainly, and told me to come to this place with- 
out delay, if I wanted to know the truth. I came, but could 
discover nothing. Your friend was here under a false name ; 
you were not in the house. I made myself sure of that before 
1 lay down to get a few hours' sleep — such sleep, God help me ! 
I was awakened by your screams." 

" The same person who sent me the telegram may have sent 
you the letters. Anonymous letters, of course. We have been 
enmeshed in a web of lies, both of us. Perhaps that other is a 
lie too — a lie, though it came to me in your own handwriting." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Herman, you accuse me of falsehood. You believe — you, 
who should know every thought of my mind, every instinct of my 
heart — you believe that I am so vile a creature as to have sacri- 
ficed home and child, honour, name, love, my hope of heaven, 
my peace here and hereafter, at the bidding of that sinful man 
who died at my feet ! I — who, till that miserable man bared his 
wicked heart before me, hardly knew that this world contained so 
much infamy. You think that I am vile enough to transfer my 
heart from you to him as I would change my glove ! You do not 
know me well enough to know that lam yours to the core of my heart 
— that I have not — never can have — a hope or desire on earth that 
does not begin and end in you, our child, and the dear ones at home." 

" I know nothing except that you were with that man. If 
he had not fallen dead at your feet, you might be far away from 
this place now — his mistress, happy, resplendent, laughing at youi 
deserted husband. Fate has played you a sorry turn ; and you, who 
might have been as magnificent as Cleopatra, are now reduced to 
the Magdalen's penitence and tears. " 

In his bitterness of heart he cannot wound her too deeply ; he 
can find no words cruel enough to express the keenness of his 
own pain. In his agony he is merciless. 

" Were you sinless yourself you could hardly be more bitter, 
Herman," says Editha with a sad smile, half scorn, half pity. 
" Yet I have a letter written by you to a woman you loved before 
you married me — a letter which proves you as false as a husband 
as you believe I have been as a wife. " 

" A letter written by me — a letter from me to any woman since 

Hostages to Fortune. 307 

I have been your husband ! E-xcept business letters, which 
might be published to the world, I have written to no woman 
since I married you. So help me. Heaven !" 

•' Herman, for pily's sake ! (b-id's wrath is swift to overtake 
false oaths. I have the letter in my travelling-bat;' — the shame- 
ful cruel letter, telling her that 3*011 have loved her always, that 
nU other love has been a delusion, asking her to share your life — 
life without her is worthless ! " 

"Are you mad, Editha ? Show me this letter. Or perhaps 
vou have lost it, like the telegram. You may have a knack of 
"losing compromising documents." 

'■ I have not lost it. " 

" Let me see it, then. It is a forgery, I tell you before looking 
at it. A trick of your late admirer's, perhaps — one of the various 
treacheries that are fair in love or war. " 

" It is no forgery, Herman," she answers sadly. " I know your 
hand too well. If there had been room for doubt, I should never 
have believed." She goes into the next room and returns almost 
immediately, bringing him the half sheet of paper, which she has 
taken from the portfolio in her travelling-bag. He reads the lines 
with a curious smile. 

" It is your writing, is it not, Hernran ? " 

" Every word of it. Yes, Mrs. Westray, I certainly wrote this, 
and, what is more, I went so far as to have it set up in type, and 
you would, bj'-and-by, had you continued to be interested in my 
dramatic labours, have heard the lines spoken in public. It is 
the rough draft of a letter from Colonel St. Vincent, the hero of 
my last comedy, to Lady Madeline Eayner, whom he loves. You 
will find the style polished and strengthened in the printed ver- 
sion, I hope, if you ever take the trouble to read my play, but 
you will discover that the latter is essentially the same." 

" And this letter was not written to Mrs. Brandreth ? " 

'' Xo more than it was written to you, or the Archbishop of 
Canterbury. It was written one Sunday afternoon in Mrs. Brand- 
reth's drawing-room, discussed with her, as a point in my plaj*, 
approved by her, and then written a second time by me, as there 
were weak points in this first notion. You know I do not often 
make two copies of the same idea — neither my leisure nor my 
L.mour serve for this niceness — but stage letters are hard writing, 
and I was anxious this one should have a natural tone. Yes, you 
v.'ill find the printed version better. " 

He hands her the paper with supreme coolness — coldness tinc- 
tured with contempt. 

" Your counter-charge is wanting in force," he says, with biting 
irony ; " an author's wife ought to have known a folio of copy. 
Women who receive love-letters of a compromising character do 

308 Hostages to Fortune. 

not usually leave them lying about for other people to pick up. 
You should know this, for you have been careful that I should 
never find any letters of Lyndhurst's to you." 

" Mr. Lyndhurst never wrote to me in my life," she answers. 

•' Indeed ! A man of vast experience and wiser than his gene- 
ration. He knew the safety of oral communication." A moment 
ago and she has been ready to fall on her knees at his feet and 
beseech his pardon for having doubted him, even though his own 
handwriting was his accuser. But at these words of insult her 
pride kindles, she recoils from him p,s if he had struck her. At 
the door she pauses, her hand on the lock, and looks at him more 
in wonder than in resentment. 

*' Does all our life together count for so little, Herman ? I 
have no more to say. No, I will not stoop to defend myself. You 
will know some day. You will be sor,ry some day." 

"That is what a good many women have said in their time," 
answers Herman, that pale pained face of his quite unmoved. 
" And the day has not come yet. Messalina and Faustina and a 
few more are waiting for it in Hades — the day that shall make 
their names white in the eyes of men." 


"Call me a fool; 
Trust not my reading nor my observation?, 
Which with experimental seal doth warrant 
The tenor of my book ; trust not my age, 
My reverence, calling, nor divinity, 
Jf this sweet lady lie not guiltless here 
Under some biting error." 
"Dieu n'a pas a pardonner. II est plus grand que ccla, il effifw! 

Kous qui ne pouvons rien effacer, nous avons invente le pardon qui punit 

puisqu'il rabaisse. " 

Yes, Herman Westray, guided by that blatant counsellor worldly 
wisdom, founding his judgment upon experience of life, has 
decided against the woman who appeared to him three years ago 
the incarnation of womanly purity. The very thought of her 
innocence then weighs against her in his mind now. 

" God help me ! " he says to himself as he paces the darkened 
room in the hotel at Ostend. He has closed the heavy Venetian 
shutters, glad to exclude the garish unsympathetic sun, glaring 
at him in fierce September brightness, if he ventures to put his 
head out of the window. Blue sky above, blue sea below ; 
white houses on either side ; and a holiday crowd going to and 
fro yonder on the digue, or bobbing up and down in parti- 
coloured raiment in the sea ; holiday music blaring on a brazen 
band ■ a foolish unreasoning joyfulness everywhere, as it seems 
to this man, stung to the heart, his household gods shattered, his 

Hostages to Fortune, 309 

life brought suddenly to a standstill, his future blotted out: for 
the man who has lost hope has no future. What is man's notion 
of his earthly future but a mirage picture painted by Hope 
upon the sands of life ? And how often it happens, as the wanderer 
advances, that tho picture vanishes and the barren sands remain. 

■• liod help me!" exclaims Herman. "It is generally this 
kind of woman — an innocent guileless smiling creature — who 
takes a sudden turn some day, and astonishes every one by 
going utterly to the bad. A woman of the world would have 
flirted with Lyndhurst, made him her slave, bled him of opera 
tickets and hothouse flowers, French gloves and fans, and 
laughed his advances to scorn. My wife sits by her fireside 
with her baby in her lap while that devil talks to me, and never 
by so much as a look or a tone betrays his influence upon her — 
marble could not seem colder, or snow purer ; yet one fine morn- 
ing she bolts with him, or comes here to meet him, which is quite 
as bad and a little more artful. And he is dead — dead," reiterates 
Herman savagely, " and I can never wring the truth from his false 
throat. Death steps between us, and cheats me of my just revenge." 

Not without some deliberation, even though his passion has 
net cooled yet, has Herman condemned his wife. He has turned 
that story of hers about in his mind, and he cannot believe her. 
He cannot believe that Hamilton Lyndhurst would have brought 
her to this place like a snared bird. There is a wild romance in 
the act — treacherous, vile as it is — which seems to him impossible 
in these latter days of easy-going sin. The Lovelace of the nine- 
teenth century wins his Clarissa without soiling his fingers. No 
dirty tools, no roundabout or subterranean ways are needful to the 
accomplishment of his victory. He speaks, and she hears. Express 
trains, continental seclusion, and the Divorce Court do the rest. 

'' Lyndhurst was not a man to snare an unwilling victim," he 
tells himself. 

What i's he to do ? Believing this wife, so dearly loved, so 
entirely trusted one little week ago — believing her guilty at least 
in intention, guilty of abandoning him and heaven for the love 
of that dead profligate — what is he to do ? His first and most 
abiding thought is how best to shield her, how best to save her 
from the shame her sin has too well deserved — to suppress the 
Feandal that is too likely to arise from her presence at that 
:iwful death scene — to sever himself from her for life, yet spare 
her the disgrace of separation. 

Not without some leaven of selfishness in his weaker hours, he 
is, in this crisis of his life, utterly unselfish. It is of his wife he 
thinks, of her welfare, her good name, and he is ready for any 
sacrifice that can serve and shield her. 

" I will e^ile niv;:e!i," he thinks. "Heaven knows, London, 


310 Hostages to Fortune. 

England, all familiar places will be hateful to me after this 
bitter blow. I will never go back any more. Let them sell me 
up at Eulham, and my name appear in the Gazette, and let my 
good friends and the public believe that I have run away from 
my creditors— that I am an outlaw afraid to face English respecta- 
bility. The world is wide enough. I shall be a shade less 
miserable a thousand miles from civilisation. And then her 
good name will not suffer. She will go home to her father, and 
society will cempassionate the victim, instead of stoning the 
sinner. I don't know, for my own part, which is hardest to 
bear, the stoning or the compassion ; but she is a woman, and 
may be able to endure pity." 

He stops in his rapid walk up and down — holds himself by 
the hair of his head, as if he were trying to reduce his feverish 
brain to order by that rough handling, and bethinks himself 
what next he should do for her welfare. 

They two cannot spend many hours more of life together. To 
see that sad sweet face — to know her lost to him, yet know her 
near — to see the temple that once was lighted by so fair and 
pure a spirit, and know that the soul within that lovely form is 
spotted and defiled, — this is too deep an agony. 

" She must go to Lochwithian," he thinks ; '' Fulham means 
home no longer. She must go back to her father, and her father 
must be told that I am a fool and a swindler, and that exile is 
unavoidable for me for the next few years. They will be glad 
to have her back in their peaceful valley. And she will go to 
church twice a day, and visit the sick, and wipe out her sin with 
many tears and prayers and good works, and be happy again, 
perhaps, by-and-by, when time has blunted the edge of pain, 
and she can look back at her married Life as if it were a bad 
dream dimly remembered. Poor soul, poor soul ! And we began 
life so gaily two years ago, and meant to be so happy together." 

The memory of that glad beginning moves him to tears, the first 
he has shed. Bitter, unaccustomed tears, which rend him as the evil 
spirits tore at the soul of their victim before they loosed their grip. 

He must send her back to her father, under safe conduct ; but 
with whom ? Has he, has she, any friend to be trusted in such 
an emergency? Yes, there is one he fancies he may safely 
confide in — one who from first to last has shown himself friendly, 
honest, faithful — Eichard Dewrance, dignified by his sacred call- 
ing, a man who knows the world, and can answer the voice 
of slander, should it assail Mrs. Westray by-and-by. 

Herman's mind is made up quickly on this point. Dewrance is 
the friend who can help him now. He goes out at once and tele- 
graphsto the curate of St. Januarius, begginghirato come to Ostend 
immediately, if he wishes to do Mrs. Westray a great service. 

Hvsiages io Fortune. 311 

"That poor fellow would go to the end of the world for 
Editha'e sake," thinks Herman, remembering Dewrance's tacit 
adoration of Miss Morcombe, and his heroic resignation in the 
hour of Ins rival's triumph. 

Dewrance, a man who knows the world, and who can hold his 
tongue — two strong points in a friend. 

At seven o'clock next morning Eichard Dewrance and Herman 
Westray are seated face to face at the breakfast-table. That 
meal has been ordered for the traveller, who has not long em- 
barked from the Dover boat. Herman drinks a cup of coffee, 
but can eat nothing. He has been up all night, feverish, unrest- 
ing, and has spent the dismal hours betwixt night and morning 
on the quay, waiting for the arrival of the packet, feeling very 
sure that the curate will be prompt to obey his summons. Dew- 
rance is horror-struck at the change in him, now that he sees him 
in the full light of the newly -risen sun. 

'• Why, in mercy's name, Westray, what has happened ? What 
have you been doing to yourself ? Is there anything wrong — i? 
your wife ill ? " asks Dewrance. 

'• My wife is — well. Make your mind easy on that point." 

" Thank God ! I thought the best answer to your telegram was 
to come as fast as the steamer would bring me — no use wasting 
money on a reply. And now tell me what's the matter. Money diffi- 
culties of course — I've heard rumours — and you want my advice." 

" Hardly, for my mind is made up. I won't insult you by 
pretending to ask for counsel when my plan is irrevocably 
formed. What I want from you is help to carry out my plan." 

Herman proceeds to explain himself, but somewhat lamely. 
He tells Dewrance the story which he wishes Dewrance to tell 
'Mr. Morcombe and the polite world by-and-by — tells him a stoiy 
of debt and difficulty and enforced exile. 

" And you are going to send your wife home, to eat her heart 
irr that solitary valley, while you roam about the Continent like a 
modern Wandering Jew, with the certainty of ultimately landing 
yourself at Homburg or Monaco and going speedily to the dogs. My 
dear fellow, I think from the lips of reason I never heard so prepos- 
terous a scheme, and an Anglican priest in a fashionable neighbour- 
hood has considerable experience of human folly, I can assure you." 

" Call me a fool, if you like, Dewrance. My mind is made up." 

" You want to break your wife's heart, and go to the bad your- 
self, because you happen to have outrun the constable, when all 
you have to do is to look your difficulties straight in the face, 
meet them and conquer them like a man. Nobody's creditors 
are harsh or implacable nowadays ; they have only to see that 
their debtor means honestly, and they will roar like sucking 
doves. Put yourself in my hands, that's a good fellow. Tho 

312 lioxlwjva vu Fortune, 

bill of sale is an awkward business, I confess, and unless 3-0111 
publisher will help you out of that difficulty, I fear you must lose 
your furniture. But what of that ? You can rub along in fur- 
nished lodgings very well for a year or two, and will live as 
cheaply again as you have been living, without the burden of a 
house and servants. AsforMrs. Westray, she loves you too well to — " 

That last half sentence stabs Herman to the heart. His forti- 
tude abandons him for a moment, and Dewranco sees the real 
state of the case before he has recovered his composure. 

" She loves me so well that she and I will be better apart for 
the rest of our lives," he exclaims bitterly. 

" Westray ! " cries the curate, "this talk about your creditors is 
all bosh. You have quarrelled with your wife." 

"No ; there has been no quarrel — not a word, not a breath. 
When she left me six weeks ago to go to Lochwithian, and laid 
her head upon my breast, and looked up at mo with her loving 
tearful eyes, I thought there was nothing on this wicked earth 
so fair and pure and true as my wife ; and now — " 

He breaks down altogether here, and angrily dashes the un- 
willing tears from his eyes. 

" And now she is just as fair and true and pure as when you 
parted from her," says the curate with conviction. " Purity and 
Editha are inseparable." 

Herman turns from his counsellor impatiently, paces the room 
for a minute or two, and then comes back to him. 

" Dewrance," he says impetuously, " can I trust you ? " 

" lam a priest," answers Dewrance. " That is answer enough. 
But let there be no half-confidence. .Trust me all in all, or not at all." 

" I will tell you everything ; yes, though it condemns her." 

He tells the story of that awful night, not so many hours ago, 
when all is said, but making a barrier between the hopeful past 
and the hopeless future strong as those gates of adamant by 
which Sin and Death keep their eternal watch and ward. He 
tells all, and pronounces his wife's condemnation. 

Dewrance listens with grave attention, and says not a word till 
Herman has finished. 

" She gives you a very simple reason for her presence here," 
he says at last. " Why do you not believe her ? " 

" Because the fiction is too palpable, and I had been warned. While 
I was with the French at Sedan I received a letter in a strange hand, 
telling me that if I came to this hotel on such a night I should make 
a discovery which concerned me deeply. I had my information." 

" From an anonymous letter," replies Dewrance contemptuously 
" No one but a scoundrel ever writes an anonymous letter, or puts' 
his pen to paper to the injury of a woman's character. Now you 
can hardl" expect unalloyed truth from a scoundrel, yet you 

JTo.sf,i>/r.i to Fortune. 313 

cliiiisc to believe the anonymous libeller in preference to your 
wife. Now I, who have not had the. honour to be Miss Mor- 
comhe's husband, choose to believe in her purity ; yes, and would 
s<> believe though all the voices of this earth united to condemn 
her." adds the curate, with a little burst of passion. 

Herman seizes him by the hand vehemently. 

'•• You are a good fellow, Dewrance. Upon my soul I think 
you are right ! Yes, it is hard to believe her less than we have 
thought her — less than the best and purest among women. But 
to find her here with that man? If you knew his character as I do — " 

" Yet vou admitted him to your house ? " 

'■ Yes ; because I thought my wife like Una — above and beyond 
contagion ; and believed that even he, at his worst, would respect 
such purity." 

'■ Such men respect nothing. Now, Westray, be reasonable. 
Instead of this pig-headed idea of yours, that a woman whom 
you have known and honoured as the purest of her sex could go 
to destruction all of a sudden at the beck of a profligate, call 
reason and experience to your aid. You have known her pure 
and true and unselfish and devoted — high-principled and religious. 
Trust your past experience of her character, and leave me to un- 
eaith the mystery of the telegram. And now go — go to your 
wife, and ask her to forgive you for having doubted her, if she 
knows that you have doubted her." 

'■ If she knows ? She knows too well ! I have been brutal to 
her," says Herman gloomily. " If she is stainless — as you 
believe, as I hope— she can never forgive me. I have said the 
bitterest things in my blind rage. I have been cruel, senseless, 
inexcusable, unless I am justified in all I said." 

" She will forgive you as Heaven forgives," replies Dewrance. 
■• She is all sweetness and pity and pardon. Go to her." 

" How can I go to her ? how can I bear to look in her eyes, 
once so true, so fearless, when I half believe she came here — 
lalse wife, degraded woman — to meet that man? " 

" No one but a madman could believe that. You have been 
out of your right mind Avhile you thought it. Go to her — go 
down on your knees before her, and tell her you have been mad, 
and you are sane again. I pledge myself to make all things clear. I 
will find the writer of those libellous letters. I will trace the 
sender of the telegram. I do not ask you to take your wife to your 
li-art again till I have succeeded ; but I do ask you to seek for 
i anion from an offended woman, whose purity you have outraged." 

Ibrman, who has gone a little way towards the door of his 
wile's room, hesitates, only half convinced. 

; 'I will take her to Lochwithian, if you like;" adds Dewrance. 
" You have no home for her. I will see her safe with her father 

314 Hostages to Fortune. 

and sister ; but I will do nothing till you have obtained her 
pardon. I will not let her leave this house under the shadow of 
unmerited suspicion. In this at least I claim the authority of a 
brother, and will see her righted." 

" You are an honest fellow, Dewrance. Yes ; I will go to her, 
and will apologise for — my brutality. I ought to have been more 
courteous — even if — even — " He cannot finish the sentence, but 
opens the door suddenty, and enters the adjoining room. 

Editha is standing by the window, looking out at the sea 
smiling up at the morning sky. All is bright and gay without — 
within there is the heavy gloom of despair. She turns her pallid 
face towards her husband almost for the first time in her life 
without a smile. Hopelessly sad are the heavy eyes ; but the 
steady truthful gaze is unchanged. 

" Editha," begins Herman, going up to her slowly, half reluc- 
tantly, " I have been talking to an old friend of yours, Biehard 

" He here ? " she says with languid surprise. 

" He has convinced me that I have behaved abominably — that 
I have been harsh — bitter — unnecessarily cruel. That — let cir- 
cumstances seem to condemn you as they might — I have no right 
to doubt. Editha, can you forgive me ? " 

She looks at him for a moment doubtfully, too deeply moved 
for words. 

" Herman, I have nothing to forgive. I have never been angry ; 
I have only been sorry that you could doubt me — grieved to the 
very heart. And yet I doubted you — " 

A moment more and she is sobbing on his shoulder, clasped to 
his heart. 

" Yes, dearest, we have each something to pardon ; we forgive 
each other. My darling, my own true wife, look up. Dewrance 
is right. I was a lunatic when I doubted you. My sweetest, no 
more tears. I will find the sender of that accursed telegram, the 
writer of those devilish letters. Dewrance," he calls, " Dewrance, 
come here, true friend, faithful priest ; the cloud has lifted ; my 
darling and I trust each other once more, never to doubt again." 

Dewrance comes in, smiling calmly, and sees the wife leaning 
on her husband's breast. 

"You have been very quick about it," he says placidly. 

"Eus&be avait depose sa yolonte sur l'etagere de sa maitresse, parmi 
d'autres chinoiseries." 

Lord Earlswood calls at the pretty little house in Kensington 
Gore the morning after his arrival in London. He is quite aware 

Hostages to Fortune. 315 

that the propreities demand a certain delay before his union with 
Myra, but he -wants to have the question settled on the lady's 
part with as little less of time as possible. 

" Let rue once know how I stand, and I can go to Scotland and 
knock about very comfortably for the winter," he tells himself ; 
"or I shouldn't mind a cruise in the Mediterranean with old 
Shlooker. Jolly old bird on board a yacht is old Shlooker ; knows 
the ropes, and can keep a fellow amused ; smokos like a furnace, 
can take the tiller occasionally, and can cook an omelette or an 
Irish stew, and plays ecarte better tlxan any man I know — ex- 
cellent company Shlooker. Yes ; I could be quite happy in my 
mind for the next six months, if I knew that Myra would have 
me when the time was up. But I must have things put square 
upon that point." 

The house in Kensington Gore is wrapped up in brown paper 
like a toy just sent home from the toyTshop. The matron 
in charge informs Lord Earlswood that Mrs. Bran9reth lias gone 
to " Eldenbridge, in Beljum." 

" Bless my soul ! when did she go ? " 

" About a week ago, sir ; leastways a week come Thursday." 

This is too elaborate a calculation for his lordship. 

" Anybody with her ? " 

" Nobody but her own maid, sir." 

" 0," says Lord Earlswood, turning on his heel. " Vexatious , 
rather," he says to himself. " I detest steamers. Good mind to 
send down to Plymouth for the Argo, and take old Shlooker to 
Belgium. Slow business that though, and I want this question 
settled at once. I suppose I must put up with the steamer." 

A balloon would be more agreeable to Lord Earlswood, or a 
submarine railway, or a patent gutta-percha apparatus. It seems 
to him a hard thing that, across the Channel, a man with coal- 
mines and a rent-roll can go no faster than a mere bagman. 

" What could induce Brandreth to choose such a place as Hel- 
denburg for her holidays ? " thinks his lordship, as he drives to 
his family solicitor to make certain arrangements before starting 
by that evening's mail. He knows not how long he may be 
away, or where he may go ; but if it were needful to follow Myra 
Brandreth over the continent of Europe to obtain an answer to 
that vital question he is so eager to ask he would so follow her. The 
Alps would be no barrier, the Balkan range would not stop him. 

" Such a stoopid place to choose," he muses ; " and she's been 
there before too. Never go to places where I've been before, 
except Brighton or Paris — absolute waste of time. Curious 
woman — no accounting for her taste. Likes a thing one day, and 
detests it the next. Hope I shall find her in a good temper." 

That night's steamer carries Lord Earlswood to Calais ; from 

316 Hostages to Fortune. 

Calais a train, with some pretensions to swiftness, bears him onto 
Ostend. At Ostend he breakfasts and takes a Turkish bath, arrays 
himself in fresh-looking gray homespun, puts two or three pairs 
of lavender gloves in his pocket, sprinkles himself with Ess 
bouquet, and proceeds by the native leisurely train to Heldenburg. 

He remembers his mission to the same place two years ago, 
when he fancied that, as bearer of the tidings of Herman 
Westray's marriage, he should discover the state of Mrs. Brand- 
reth's feelings for that gentleman. He had an idea that a 
woman always fainted, or shrieked, or beat the carpet with the 
heels of her boots — like the famous Mrs. Pott at Eatanswill — 
when she heard anything that hurt her feelings. Myra had 
received his communication with ineffable tranquillity, had looked 
him in the face and smiled ; ergo she had never cared for the 
Benedict. Satisfied upon this point in some measure, Lord Earls- 
wood had been not the less provoked to jealousy by those half 
tete-d-tetes which Herman was permitted to enjoy in the inner 
drawing-room at Kensington Gore. 

Everything at Heldenburg looks just as it did that last time, as 
Lord Earlswood goes up the stone steps that divide the quaint 
and picturesque-looking old town from the brand-new white 
houses and green Venetians of modern Heldenburg. There have 
been a few more white houses added perhaps within the two 
years. The terraces fronting the sea have grown a little longer, 
sandy foundations for more houses are being dug out yonder. 
Heldenburg has evidently prospered, and is prospering. The 
rabbits are driven away from the sandy dunes where they did erst 
disport themselves ; the mussels are getting as scarce as whitebait. 

Lord Earlswood proceeds straight to the office of the hotel, 
where an intelligent female, in the freshest of caps, gives him 
the information he requires. Mrs. Brandreth occupies an apart- 
ment au premier in the last house but one to the right. 

He is not so fortunate as to see Mrs. Brandreth in the balcony 
this time, but on reaching the first-floor finds her servant, who 
shows him into the drawing-room. There is the same satin-lined 
basket, with the same strip of point-lace on blue cambric, or one 
very like it ; there are flowers and books and terra-cotta 
statuettes. In a word, the stage is dressed with Myra's usual 
taste, but Myra herself has a worn and faded look, Lord Earls- 
wood thinks, as she enters from the adjoining room, dressed in 
white cashmere — an opaque creamy white — with her hair loosely 
arranged, looking like a picture by Whistler. 

She is not the less beautiful in his eyes for being a little " off 
colour,"_for his passion is at that stage, and has long been, when 
change in the object brings no change in the feeling of the adorer. 
Were she gradually to become hideous, he would not know it. 

Hostages to Fortune. 317 

His coming is not pleasing to her. He can see that but too 
plainly ; and the sense of her displeasure stings him, knowing 
that he has come to offer her place and power in the world, with 
his own heart as a make-weight 

"I'm afraid you're not over glad to see me," he says; "yet 
I came over on purpose to see you." 

" So you did two years ago when you came to tell me of Mr. 
AVestray's marriage," she answers, sinking wearily into a chair by 
the open window. She has the air of being worried, and the hand 
with which she pushes back the loose hair from her forehead 
is faintly tremulous. " You have a mania for rushing about upon 
wild-goose chases. Have you any tremendous news for me to-day ? ' 

" Yes, Myra. My wife is dead, and I am a free man. Didn't 
you know it ? " 

"No ; I seldom look at the morning papers. I suppose I ought 
to congratulate you, rather than condole with you, as your mar- 
riage was not a happy one." 

He draws his chair near hers, and looks at her earnestly, be- 
seechingly even, a very slave in his devotion to her. 

" My first marriage was a miserable one. All the world 
knows that, though I believe Lady Earlswood was a very 
good sort of person in her own particular style. But it wasn't my 
style, you see. What is my next marriage to be like, Myra ? " 

She laughs nervously. 

" I must refer you to the lady you may honour by your choice," 
she says. " I would recommend you to be deliberate in your 
selection. You have found your matrimonial chains heavy. There 
can be no hurry for you to fetter yourself again." 

" Come, Myra, you must know that my choice was made three 
years ago ; that nothing — not even unkindness from the woman 
I love — could alter my feelings on tkat point. There never was 
but one woman who exercised any influence upon my life. There 
is only one woman who can make me happy : and her name is 
Myra Brandreth." 

" A dream, a delusion ! " exclaims Myra. " It was all very well 
to build a theatre for me, and to get rid of your Sunday after- 
noons in my drawing-room, but you never could have meant 
anything more than that." 

" I always meant to make you my wife, if Providence ever 
gave me the opportunity. Don't tell me that you can have the 
heart to refuse me, Myra, now the chance has come. Don't tell 
me that you haven't known of my love all along." 

" You are a faithful, devoted creature," exclaims Myra, looking 
at him with a touch of genuine admiration. " And I wish I were 
bettor worthy of such generous affection. But I never have 
been worthy of an honest man's love at the hour it was offered 

318 ffvsiuges to WovtVHK. 

to me. True love passed me by once, and might have been mine, 
but I let it go." She has risen from her seat by the window, 
and is walking slowly up and down the room, deeply thoughtful. 

" Myra, make me happy. I only want your answer, your promise 
to be my wife, and then I'll go to Scotland or somewhere, and won't 
worry you with my society for the next six months, if you like." 

" And you would make me a peeress ! " she exclaims, turning 
her kindling eyes upon him, her face, so wan before, lighted with 
excitement. " You would place me above the women who have 
held themselves aloof from me, and looked at me in the Park as 
if my presence among them was an impertinence. You would 
give me a palace in London, and three or four country seats, and 
all the pageantry of fashionable life. You would set me abreast 
with the mightiest in the land. You would do all this for me — you, 
Lord Earlswood, to whom I have never been particularly civil ! " 

" There is nothing I possess in this world that I value for its 
own sake half so much as for the power to give it to you," said 
his lordship, deeply moved. "There never was a woman so fit 
to be a peeress." 

" If a good fairy had offered me this gift years ago at Cole- 
haven, when I was an ambitious girl, how gladly I should have 
accepted it ! All good things come to me, but at the wrong time. 
Fate and the hour -are never propitious." 

" Myra, your answer is yes, is it not ? " demands Lord Earls- 
wood anxiously. 

" My answer is no," she replies. " I am grateful for your 
generous offer. It would suit my humour well to be a peeress, 
and trample upon the necks of a few women I know. I feel 
sometimes as if I had been born for place and power in the world. 
But there is something better. Yes, true love is better ; and un- 
happily, I do not love you." 

" I — I never expected that," falters Lord Earlswood. I don't 
ask you to love me — not at first. I couldn't take such a liberty. 
But if you will only tolerate me, to begin with, you might come 
in time to find me not — utterly detestable ; and eventually you 
might be rather fond of me. I should be so proud of you. I 
should try so hard to make y r our life happy." 

" You are the most generous of men, and I should be — yes, I 
believe I should be positively happy as your wife, if — " 

" If what, Myra ? " he cries eagerly, as she hesitates. Hope 
dawns upon him again. . 

" If I had not a brighter dream, a fairer hope," she answers 
with a far-away look. 

" Dreams and hopes are, in a general way, rubbish," he says. 
" I offer you fifty thousand a year and a coronet. That's a tan- 
gible proposal." 

Hostages to Fortune. 319 

"I cannot forego my dream." 

" And, alter I have been your slave for three years, you will 
send me away hopeless ? " he remonstrates, with a dismal coun- 
tenance. " Remember, Myra, I shall be done for if you refuse 
me. It'll be a case of moral murder ; for I shall take the quickest 
possible way of raining myself — financially, if I can — constitu- 
tionally without doubt. I shall take to gambling and chloral. I 
daresay when nest you hear of me it will be in the announce- 
ment of untimely deaths. Good-bye ! " 

'' Stay one moment, Lord Earlswood, " cries Myra. 

" A century, if you like." 

" Shall I strike a bargain with you ? " 

" Say you'll be my wife in six months from to-day." 

" No ; I can't do that. But if a year hence I am still a free 
woman, you may claim me." 

" That means that you know you are going to marry some one 
else in the interim," says his lordship ruefully. 

" I know nothing. My future is veiled in obscurity. But if a 
year hence my hope is not realised, I shall know that it never 
will be, and I shall be free to marry you ; and if I cannot give you 
my love, at the worst you shall have my gratitude and esteem. " 

" That is all I ask. But a year is such a long time." 

" One London season, a little fishing and sh«oting, and the year 
is over." 

" Well, I suppose I must be satisfied, but it's rather hard upon 
a fellow." 

He pleads for some time longer, pleads and argues with as much 
eloquence as he can command ; but Myra is firm as a rock, and he 
ultimately departs, sorely disappointed, though not without hope. 

"You are going back to London immediately, I suppose?" 
she says as he is leaving her. 

'■Well — not quite ; at least, I've not made up my mind. Bather 
a nice hotel here — think I shall stay a day or two. " 

Myra s face clouds a little at this. Lord Earlswood sees the 
shadow, and is all the. more bent upon remaining. That other 
fellow whom she loves must be here, thinks his lordship, and he 
may find out the mystery of her hopes and dreams, if he exer- 
cises his powers of observation. 

" I fancy you'll be tired of Heldenburg in a couple of hours." 

" Not if you allow me to look in for an hour or so in the evening." 

Positive affliction expresses itself with painful distinctness in 
Mrs. Brandreth's countenance. 

" 0, if you have notliing better to do with yourself I suppose 
you must come," she says wearily, "but I warn you that I shall 
be dismal company. Last season's incessant work almost 
wore me out. 1 am but half alive, and came here to vegetate." 

3-3 Hostages to Fortune. 

"I'll come and vegetate with you for a little. I wouldn't 
much mind being one of two zoophites sticking side by side to a 
rock provided you were the other one," replies his lordship ; and 
with a languid shake hands they part. 

Lord Earlswood has so sedulously trained his countenance to 
an expression of gentlemanlike vacuity that, though he loves to 
distraction, his features portray only indifference. He has but 
one look — a look which he would carry with him to the hymeneal 
altar, or the block. 


"From that day forth, in Peace and joyous Bliss 
They lived together long without debate ; 
Ne private Jarre, ne spite of Enemies, 

Cou'd shake the safe assurance of their state." 

Once having looked into his wife's true eyes, once having held 
her to his troubled heart, there is no more possibility of doubt for 
Herman Westray. It was only while he kept himself resolutely 
aloof from her that he could think her changed ; that he could 
believe, as he has believed, that fair and perfect form a whited 
sepulchre, concealing inward pollution. Confidence, love, sym- 
pathy, all life's sweetest things have returned to Herman and 
Editha, and they discuss the future with honest friendly Dew- 
rance, happy and hopeful once again, seated side by side, looking 
out at the opal sea, and the bathers in their many-coloured 
raiment, and the blue smiling sky, and feeling the universe in 
harmony with their own hearts once again. And what of 
their troubles ? That dreadful man in possession, for instance ? 
That bill of sale, which means annihilation of their pretty home? 
These are but ciphers in the sum of life when that mighty total 
Love a23pears on the right side of the ledger. 

It is settled in friendly counsel that Editha shall go back to 
England by this evening's boat, escorted by Mr. Dewrance. 
They will proceed straight to Eoehampton, pick up nurse and 
baby, and then travel to Lochwithian, where Mrs. Westray is 
to remain safely lodged beneath the paternal roof -tree, while 
Herman gets through his difficulties, and sells off his furniture 
as advantageously as he can in liquidation of that luckless bill of sale. 

" Do you know much of the man who holds it ? " asks Dewrance. 

" I don't know any good of him, except that he showed him- 
self rather friendly in his dealings with me. He's a sixty per 
center in a general way : but he accommodated me on pretty 
reasonable terms, taking the bill of sale as his security. Of 
course I was a fool to go to him, but I thought I should right 
myself in a month or two. It was only a temporary expedient." 

Hostages to Furl itne. 321 

" One of those temporary expedients which mean permanent 
ruin," observes the sagacious Dew-ranee. " I shouldn't wonder if 
Mr. Lyndhurst had a linger in this bill-of-sale business." 
Westray's face darkens. 

" It was Lyndhurst who introduced me to the money-lender," 
he says. 

•'Wheels within wheels. You maybe thankful to have lost 
liD more than your furniture." 
Fur sole reply Herman kisses his wife's hand. 
'• Herman," she says pleadingly, " if you could only make up 
your mind to come down to us when your troubles are over, and 
live at Lochwithian for a little while — with papa if you liked— 
or in a cottage of our own if you preferred it." 

"in our own cottage, dearest ; we will have our own ingle- 
nook, were it ever so humble. Yes, dear, I will live in Wales. 
I will live wherever you can be happiest. I will turn my back 
on this hard bad world, and live in rustic tranquillity with you, 
and work honestly at my calling, and write for posterity." 

" 0, come now, don't be too ambitious," expostulates Dew- 
ranee, " you must write books that will sell : books written for 
tiie future are rarely popular in the present. And they don't 
always reach the future either. They're like the drift people : 
we know precious little about them." 

Editha talks of that cottage on the slope of the hill at Loch- 
withian, and Herman is charmed with her description. He feels 
that it is in him to lead the Wordsworthian life, and think as 
Wordsworth thought, and achieve a new reputation. Perhaps 
every literary man has that yearning for a new reputation. Bulvver 
Lytton had it always, and was always winning a new crown un- 
awares. Critics and public awarded the prize before they recog- 
nised the claimant. But it is given to very few men thus to succeed. 
It is like a new courtship this happy hour of reconciliation, 
and Herman and his wife talk of the future as if they were 
planning their honeymoon. Between that blissful future and 
the immediate present there lies a gulf of parting, but Editha 
tries to ignore that dread abyss. 

"It will not take you very long to settle your affairs in 
London, will it, Herman ? " she asks. 

'• Not long, dear. I shall make short work of my difficulties, 
I assure you." 

'• Why should I not stay at Koehampton till all is settled ? It 
would be so much nicer to be near you." 

" Much nicer for me, darling, but you will be better off at 
Lochwithian. I could not bear the idea of my wife being in a 
suburban lodging while her home was in process of destruction, 
hiding as it were from the eye of the world. The Priory is your 

322 Hostages to Fortune. 

proper place, dearest, at such a time, or I would not banish you. 

And you will be with Ruth, remember." 

" Yes, that is a happiness. Dear Ruth ! 0, Herman, I have 

sometimes thought lately that she is fading from us, that God 

will part me from my sister." 

" My love, there are some people who bear the seal of eternal 

youth. Your sister is one who seems hardly meant to grow old 

i;i this world." 

The thought of that threatened loss saddens Editha in the 

midst of her happiness, and Dewrance is glad to break in upon 

the conversation with some practical remark about Bradshaw 

and the Radnorshire trains. 

It has been agreed between Mr. "Westray and the Curate that 

Herman is to stay at Ostend and do his best to discover the 

sender of the telegram. Should he require further aid from 

Dewrance, that faithful friend will return at his summons ; but 
this seems unlikely. Editha knows why her husband is remain- 
ing, and approves ; there is perfect confidence between them now. 
The afternoon wears away — too fast for these reunited lovers. 
They go for a walk with Dewrance, who knows Ostend by heart, 
and shows them the old churches, and holds forth upon eccle- 
siastical architecture and Flemish art, while Herman and his wife 
stand side by side in the dusky aisle, thinking more of each 
other than of those angular Madonnas with high cheek-bones 
and closely-plaited auburn hair, florid Netherlandish complexions, 
and draperies whose glowing crimsons and vivid blues time has 
not faded, or sun bleached, or mildew tarnished. 

A peaceful day — with a touch of sadness, for they are so soon 
to part, but with a deep sense of recovered happiness — a day 
which hangs a little heavily for Dewrance, but for these two is 
so swift to pass away. Evening comes, and they are standing 
on the lamplit quay ; a few last loving words, a tender pressure 
of the hand, a clamorous bell ringing greedily, as if it grudged 
them the sweet sadness of parting, and they are divided. The 
boat dips and plunges. The lights of the town begin to bob up 
and down. Dewrance draws Editha's shawl round her as the 
autumn wind blows keenly across the sandy dunes, and Herman 
is left.behind. Editha's eyes grow dim with tears. 

" How glad baby will be to see you ! " says that judicious Dew- 
rance. " I suppose he has grown ever so much since I saw him last." 
Mrs. Westray brightens and begins to talk about baby, and, 
cheered by this conversation, descends by-and-by to the cabin 
where she sleeps peacefully to the ocean lullaby ; the first peace- 
ful slumber she has known since she left Roehampton at the 
bidding of that false summons. 

Hostages to Fortune. 323 


" A lie will gain 
The goal, although from land to land, 

To get there, round the world it run, 
V, T hile Truth, half-waked, with drowsy hand 

Her travelling trim is buckling on. 
All treachery could devise hath wrought 

Against us — letters robb'd and read, 
Snares hid in smiles, betrayal bought." 

Tuaxquillised by reconciliation with his wife, Herman does 
what a wiser man might have done at the outset. He consul (s 
a local solicitor, and with that gentleman for his companion pro- 
coeds to the telegraph office and endeavours to identify the sender 
of that lying message. 

The telegraph clerks are at first disinclined to answer ques- 
tions. It is against the rule that they should do so. It is 
impossible that they should remember the senders of telegrams 
or the circumstances, whether ordinary or extraordinary, attend- 
ing the sending thereof. 

" But if your system is used for a mischievous purpose, as it 
easily may be, don't you think it is your duty to give all the help 
you can in unearthing the offender? " asks Herman hotly. 

The telegraphists have not considered the question in that 
light. They are of opinion that their duty lies chiefly in mind- 
ing their own business, and holding themselves rigidly within 
the narrow lines of routine. 

The Belgian lawyer lays his hand upon Herman's sleeve 

" Permit me, monsieur," he says ; and then with infinite cour- 
tesy presents the question to the officials : " A false message, 
purporting to come from this gentleman, has been sent to this 
gentleman's wife, summoning her to Ostend — to his death-bed. 
Figure to yourself, then, the alarm of madame. Must one. permit 
such a baseness? But it is an abuse of the system of telegraphy." 

The officials know the man of law, and to a fellow-townsman" 
are more communicative than to Herman. They exercise their 
memories, look back a"t their books, whisper together a little, and 
finally show themselves willing to afford any information in 
their power. There is the message, in the words Editha has re- 
peated to her husband, but nobody in the office can remember 
anything about the sender of that particular telegram. 

" It might bo that it was Alphonse who took the message," says 
one, when Herman is on the point of leaving the office in despair. 

Alphonse is juvenile and an underling. The second official 
hardly thinks it likely that it was Alphonse. While the two 
clerks (]>"""= ^"* aucstion the swinging door opens and 

324 Hostages to Fortune. 

Alphonse enters, flushed and oleaginous from the cafe where he 
lias breakfasted at 1 franc 25 centimes, wine included. 

" But here is the young man of which it acts. Say tlren, Al- 
phonse ; " and both clerks assail him at once with eager ques- 

Alphonse blushes, wipes his moustache still bedewed with the 
last drops of Macon, and confesses to remembering the sending 
of a message to England, to some place near London, on the 
date Herman has mentioned. 

" I remember, because it was sent by two persons, a lady and 
a gentleman," he says ; " and they have talked much before 
sending it, and they have disputed between themselves as to the 
words, and the lady she was pale like the death." 

'■ A lady ! " exclaims Herman, puzzled. " What need of a 
woman's handiwork in this black business ? " he asks himself. 

" Yes, a lady, young and handsome, or at least not an all- 
young girl — une dame posee. She held herself all quietly," con- 
tinues Alphonse, interested in his subject, " and she had the air 
to give her orders to this monsieur, but she was not the less 
agitated. Her inferior lip trembled a little. I have remarked it." 

" Describe her," cries Herman. " The man I know ; tall, stout, 
dark, pale, with black whiskers." 

" But precisely. It is he." 

" Describe this woman." 

Alph'uise bursts into pantomime. 

" Permit, monsieur, it is not so easy to describe a handsome 
woman. That does not describe itself. Madame has the eyes of 
a beautiful brown — une chevelure, mais une si belle cheveiure, 
chatain clair. She is tall, svelte. She is gloved to ravish. Her, 
toilette is of an exquisite simplicity. She has the vivacity, the 
fashions of an artist," Alphonse thinks. 

Warmed with le petit vin rouge which has accompanied his 
breakfast of bullock's kidney aux champignons, Alphonse is en- 
thusiastic and diffuse. The English lady has evidently made an 
impression upon the susceptible heart of this telegraphic youth. 

Herman's brow darkens ominously as he hears and meditates 
on what he has heard. There is one woman whom Alphonse's 
description tits to a nicety ; but no, he cannot think that she- 
Colonel Clitheroe's daughter, the woman he played with as a 
child— could soil her honour thus— could sink to such a nether- 
most depth of infamy. And after all it is difficult to fix an 
image with mere words. Alphonse's glowing description might 
depicture twenty women. Lyndhurst's feminine acquaintance 
were doubtless numerous. Strange though that any woman, 
however fallen, should lend herself to this foul scheme. Strange 
that a woman's aid should be needed in so simple a matter as the 

Hostages to H'ortune. 325 

pending of tho telegram. Would not the fact of this woman's 
presence imply that she was rather the instigator than the abettor 
of Lvndhurst's treachery'? 

" But I recall myself," exclaims Alphonse suddenly, while Her- 
man is darkly considering possibilities; "if monsieur would 
well be certified there is a means." 

" What means ? " cries Herman. 

'' Madame has let fall her pocket-handkerchief at the moment 
of leaving the bureau. I have picked it up, and kept it, be- 
lieving that she would return to seek it. It carries her monogram 
at the corner. It is at the service of monsieur if he wishes it." 

" I'll give you a sovereign for it," exclaims Herman. 

" But, monsieur," pleads Alphonse, with a cunning twinkle in his 
small black eyes, " the lace with which it is bordered is of a value." 

" Two sovereigns ! " says Herman. 

Alphonse opens his desk and hands a filmy cambric handker- 
chief, Valenciennes bordered, across the counter to Herman. 

'• Since madame will evidently not return to claim it," he mur- 
murs self-excusingly. 

Herman looks for the monogram. 

The gothic letters M. V B., surrounded with a wreath of 
forget-me-nots in finest satin-stitch, adorn one corner. 

" Myra Vansittart Brandreth." There are not many people 
who know Mrs. Brandreth's second name, but Herman is one of 
the few. It is her mother's maiden name. In her girlish days 
she was rather proud of signing herself in full, Myra Vansittart 
Ciitheroe, with a flourish under the C. 

Alphonse receives his two sovereigns, and is glad. However 
sweet it may have been to him to retain that perfumed souvenir 
of a charming woman, fifty francs are sweeter. How many 
breakfasts, how many dinners, cigarettes, games at billiards, are 
comprehended in such a sum ! 

Mr. Westray informs his legal adviser that he is quite satisfied 
now. He has traced the sender of the telegram. There is no 
shadow of doubt in his mind. 

" It is an ugly thing for a woman to have done," says the 
lawyer, with a shrug. 

Herman remembers a certain Sunday evening in Bloomsbury- 
Bcmare, and a famous couplet of Congreve's : 

" Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turn'd, 
And hell no iury like a wouiaa scoin'd." 

326 Hostages to Fortune. 


" O crueller than was ever told in tale 
Or sung in song ! vainly lavish'd love ! 
O cruel ! There was nothing wild or strange, 
Or seeming shameful — for what shame in Jove, 
So love be true, and not as yours is? — nothing 
Poor Vivien had not done to win his trust, 
Who call'd her what he called her — all her crime, 
All, all, the wish to prove him wholly hers." 

" Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them with his comfort. " 
" Curious to have refused a coronet," muses Mrs. Brandrelh, 
letting Cadol's latest novel, in a pink cover, fall open in Lor lap. 
Her mind is too full to find room for the shadows of fiction, be 
they never so life-like, or psychologically true to the worst side 
of human nature. She reads page after page mechanically, with 
the eyes only, and finally abandons the book altogether. " "Who 
would believe it of me," she asks herself ;. " of me, who seem 
such a worldling? And it would have been sDmething to be 
called Lady Eaiiswood, and to have prime ministers and foreign 
plenipotentiaries at my dinner-parties, and to have set the fashion, 
and had carriages and new geraniums and hats called after me ; 
something to have changed all at once from a player-queen into 
a real potentate ; something won to have no more thought for 
the future, no need to save money, and bethink myself that age 
and gray hairs must come ; something to know that I should wear 
purple till it served for my pall. Yet I can surrender this gladly, 
proudly, for the sweeter gain I have played for so boldly." 

She recalls those Sunday evenings that Herman and she have 
spent, almost en tcte-d-tete, in that exclusive little drawing-room 
of hers ; the amber curtains drooping between them and the outer 
world. She thinks of hours in which it has seemed to her that 
the old love has come back, the old days have been renewed, 
youth and hope born again, life's afternoon flushed and bright- 
ened with the morning's rose-colour. 

" I suit him best, " she thinks. " I can share in his work ; I 
can help his ambition. Nature and art have made us for each 
other, he and I, while that poor petty fool has not a thought in 
common with him. " 

Yes, for this hope — for the hope of seeing Herman at her 
feet — she willingly foregoes wealth and status ; willingly as she 
has sacrificed honour, honesty, womanly feeling for the same 
end. And it must be said in her favour that of the two this 
latter sacrifice costs her least. 

She has seen no English newspaper since her arrival at Hel- 
denburg, just a week ago, and she does not know that Hamilton 

Hostages to Fortune. 327 

Lyndhurst has journeyed to a country not included in modern 
atlases, or described by the useful Murray, and to which the in- 
defatigable Cook "personally conducts" no excursionist's? 

Lord Earlswood comes in and out two or three times in a 
day, and she tolerates his presence with a little more than her 
usual civility, feeling grateful for that offer of his. It is some- 
thing to fall back upon at the worst — a pis-alter. If love fail 
her, despite her desperate endeavour to lure him back to her net, 
Plutus will yet be propitious. She will not have lived in vain. 

" I will console myself by spending more money than any 
peeress in London, and in shutting my doors against some of the 
best people in Burke. My rooms shall be more exclusive'than 
Almack's in the famous Jersey and Londonderry days, and I 
will refuse to receive duchesses if they are not the fashion." 

" But love is best — love is best of all," she thinks, after a brief 
indulgence in that splendid vision. " What good can I have 
more out of society than I have had, upon a small scale ? It 
will be only widening the area. Love is best. 0, for the old 
Devonshire lanes, and the blue sea shining at us across a break 
in the woods ! 0, for long summer afternoons far away from 
this idle world, with the man I love ! " 

She thinks of the day when he held her hand in his among 
the foxgloves and the fern, and told her that she was all the 
world to him. They have travelled their diverse roads in life 
since then. Could they but come back to that old trysting-placo, 
and have faith in each other as of old, and begin the world 
again — yes, that would be verily the dawn of a new life. 

Whereupon, as she is dreaming of such a return, with eyes 
fixed on the western glow yonder above the sea line, enters Lord 
Earlswood, carrying his hat and cane as if they were the two 
parts of a musical instrument, from which he was prepared to ex- 
tract melody. He unships his cane, ships it again under his left 
arm, and takes Mrs. Brandreth's hand, which he clings to with a 
limp affectionateness for some moments. 

" So good of you to let me drop in like this," he says. 

If Myra aspired to candour, she would reply that she suffers 
the infliction because she cannot help herself. But she inwardly 
resolves to leave Heldenburg speedily. In Kensington Gore Lord 
Earlswood is one of many, and his society so much the less a burden. 

" Why don't you come out on the digue ? " he asks. " It's very 
nice. Lot's of people." 

" If there were no people, I'd come ; but I hate being stared at. 
And I daresay somebody would contrive to identify me, thanks 
to the photographers." 

" Sure to," replies his lordship. " They have it in the papers 

328 Hostages to Fortune. 


" Your name. There's a horrid little local paper — flabby, and 
smelling of printer's ink. They fasten it on to a stick in the 
cafes to keep it from dropping to pieces, it's such a flaccid in- 
vertebrate creature." 

" Well ? " 

" There's a paragraph about you. I bought a paper on purpose 
to show you." His lordship produces the limp journal and reads : 
" ' We have been pleased to observe the charming English actress, 
Miss Brandworth ' — call you Miss and got your name wrong — 
'has taken an apartment in one of the new houses on the 
esplanade. Another proof that Heldenburg is advancing in 
popularity. These insulars have heard of us in their barbaric 
climate, where we are assured there is but one fashionable 
watering-place — Brighton in the New Forest. For invalids they 
have, it is true, their Isle of Wights, with its pretty town of 
Scarborough, and its adjacent islets of Dogs and Mans.'" 

Mrs. Brandreth laughs faintly, and seems not over-pleased that 
the local print should have made known her presence. 

" 0, by-the-bye," exclaims Lord Earlswood, after a longish 
silence, during which he has performed dumbly with his cane on 
the crown of his hat, with as intent a countenance as if he were 
carefully executing one of Chopin's most elaborate compositions 
in seven flats, relieved by occasional double sharps, " I've got 
some news for you." 

His lordship's idea of a brilliant conversationalist is that he 
should be the first to communicate some startling event, calamitous 
or otherwise, no matter how uninteresting to the recipient — a fire 
in Blackfriars or Ratcliff Highway, a glazier fallen through a 
skylight, the failure of a bank, or a play, or a picture. If the 
event, on the other hand, has any point of special interest to the 
listener, the conversationalist scores double. 

Myra has been watching the evening sky dreamily, not quite 
awakened from that dream in wliich Lord Earlswood surprised 
her. She turns to him languidly. 

"You are a great purveyor of marvels," she remarks. "What 
is the last startling event? Not Westminster Abbey burnt 
down, I hope, or the Emperor of Eussia assassinated ? " 

" No. It's something stranger than that — about somebody you 
know," replies Lord Earlswood, with unction. 

Myra's attention is keen enough now. Her small world — that 
inner world, that universe in little which each of us carries in bis 
breast — holds but one person. Her first thought is of him. 

"Who is it?" she asks impatiently. "I know so many people." 

" Yes, but this is a particular friend — used to meet him always 
at your Sunday eveniners." ; ' 

JL.slnges to Fortune. 329 

" Can't yon say whom you are talking about ? " exclaims Myra, 
her breath coming quicker. 

" Hamilton Lyndhurst. Clever fellow, but not quite — in short, 
you know, a bad egg — a very speckly potato." 

Myra grows suddenly pale, and looks at Lord Earlswood 
strangely — with a look of absolute fear, he thinks. He suspects 
all at once that Lyndhurst has been his rival, and not Westray ; 
and a faint light kindles in hie dull gray eyes. 

" What of Mr. Lyndhurst ? " asks Myra breathlessly. 

" 0, nothing out of the common, poor fellow. Dead ! " 

This is more awful than anything she could have feared. Dead ! 
The keystone of the arch gone — all the fabric fallen into ruin, 

Her head sinks back upon the cushion of her chair ; her dry 
lips move dumbly. She looks as if she were going to faint. 

" I didn't know the news would be such a floorer," says Lord 
Earlswood drily, with a suppressed savagery. " If I had known, 
I should have been more careful how I told you. I would have 
gone to that white-washed convent outside the town and got one 
of the sisters to break it to you." 

" Don't be idiotic ! " exclaims Myra contemptuously. " Mr. 
Lyndhurst was no more to me than the next stranger who passes by 
on the pavement below. But it is awful to hear of such a sudden 
death — a man I saw last strong,vigorous, full of plans for the future." 

She recalls that conversation in her dressing-room at the 
Frivolity, and Hamilton Lyndhurst's excuse for his evil life. 
Death was always at his shoulder. 

" Yes," says Lord Earlswood, " it's very horrid that a man can 
be taken off like that. Makes long invitations for dinner-parties 
and speculative bets on next year's races quite a mockery, doesn't 
it? You may stand to win a pot of money on the Guineas or 
the Cup, and the beggar who gave you the odds goes off the 
hooks like this. Lyndhurst is in my book for ever so many events." 

" How did he die ? " asks Myra, who has not heard a word of 
this lament. 

She has a horrible idea that Herman and Lyndhurst may have 
met, and that Lyndhurst s death may have been the issue of 
their meeting. She sees herself for an instant — with all the 
vividness of an overpowering apprehension — the instigator and 
cause of a murder. 

'' Heart-disease," drawls his lordship. " There has been a good 
deal of talk about it at Ostend. I ran over there this morning, 
and heard the news at the public rooms. Westray and his wife 
were with him when he died, it seems, at an hotel in Ostend. 
Horrid to die at a strange hotel, with none of one's traps about one. 
He hadn't even a servant, it seems. Dreadfully benighted state." 

330 Hostages to Fortune. 

Myra lapses into silence — deepest gloom depicted in her face. 

" You must have "been awfully friendly with him to feel his 
death so much," says Lord Earlswood, moodily jealous. 

" Don't I tell you that his death is nothing to me ? One man less 
in the world, that is all. Did you hear anything more ? Did people 
say anything about the circumstances attending his death ? " 

" Nothing particular. It was very sudden — dropped down 
senseless, and never spoke again. Doctors called it heart-disease. 
There was a post-mortem, you know ; everything en regie." 

" There was no scandal — no insinuation against Mrs. Westray's 
character ? No question as to how she came to be with him ? " 

" Of course not. There was her husband with her, you see ; 
and a husband is supposed to be a kind of protector. I don't 
mean to say that he always is, you know ; but society accepts 
him in that light." 

" When did this happen? " 

"Nearly a week ago. Poor Lyndhurst was to be buried this 
afternoon. Very quiet funeral — all over by this time. Melan- 
choly consequence of one's death, isn't it ? I wouldn't so much 
mind dying if it wasn't for the burying process. If I could be 
allowed to He about somewhere out of people's way, or be 
deodorised like sewage, and turned to some use agriculturally, or 
stuck up at the top of a high tower and pecked at by birds till 
there was nothing left of me but nice clean bones. There's 
nothing objectionable in bones, you know. Yes, they've buried 
poor Lyndhurst in a horrid foreign cemetery, where people stick 
twopenny gilt vases on the graves, and paper flowers." 

" Hark ! what is that ? " cries Myra, starting up. 

A shrill peal of the bell belonging to this first-floor. A visitor 
for Mrs. Brandreth. 

" I don't know a soul here except yon," she says, more discom- 
posed by the interruption than she need be, Lord Earlswood 
thinks, always inclined to suspicion. 

Her maid is heard in converse with some one in the little ante- 
room. These new houses are mere lath and plaster, and one 
hears so well. A man's voice. Great Heaven, whose ? Her 
heart beats as if it would burst. Yes, it is the voice she knows 
so well. The door opens, and Herman enters, pale in the twilight, 
and with an inflexible look in brow and eyes and lips. 

"Good heavens, Herman, what is the matter?" she cries, 
calling him by the dear familiar name which she has spoken so 
often when they were children. 

" Not very much," he answers quietly. " A mere trifle, in fact. 
I have come all the way from Ostend to bring you this. 

He takes the lace-bordered handkerchief from his breast-pocket, 
and hands it to her. 

Hostages to Fortune. 331 

"You still use your favourite wood-violet, I find," ho says, as 
he gives her the perfumed cambric. 

She looks at him with a stony stare — half bewilderment, half 
alarm. Has he gone out of his mind ? Has some horror con- 
nected with Lyndhurst's death driven him mad? This is a 
deeper ruin than she dreamed of. 

" Herman ! " 

" You are surprised," he says. "You don't remember, perhaps, 
where you dropped that handkerchief?" 

" No," she answers mechanically, still looking at him with the 
same blank terror in her face. 

" I wonder that so clever a woman asyou,engagedinsuchanugly 
business, should have left any trace of your presence. That hand- 
kerchief was f ouEd in the telegraph office at Ostend a week ago." 

" Indeed ! Yes, I had to send a telegram to my acting manager," 
replies Myra, with composure. She knows now why he is here, and 
that all is discovered. The utmost she can attempt now is denial. 

" You were not telegraphing to him when you dropped that 
handkerchief," says Herman. " You were assisting — or perhaps 
I should say instigating— Mr. Lyndhurst to send a lying telegram 
to my wife ; a telegram affecting to come from me, her husband, 
stricken down by sudden illness, summoning her to my sick-bed. 
She was to come and find Mr. Lyndhurst there to meet her. A pretty 
scheme, was it not — one woman trying to compass the destruction 
of another — a womanly revenge upon an unconscious rival ? " 

" You forget that we are not alone ! " cries Myra. 

"I do not. I believe Lord Earlswood to be as much in- 
terested in knowing your part in this business as I am." 

" Thank you," says his lordship, who stands holding on to the 
back of a chair, very pale, and with his eyes on Myra's face. 
'• Thank you, Westray. That's friendly, at any rate." 

" I don't know how you came by this notion," says Myra. " I 
have not seen Mr. Lyndhurst since I left London." 

" Don't trouble yourself to tell lies on my account," interposes 
Lord Earlswood. " I can see the truth in your face." 

" On your account ! " cries Myra, with biting scorn. " Do you 
think I am trying to justify myself in your eyes ? Herman, will 
you listen to me ? " 

'' Only when you tell me the black and bitter truth. What 
could have induced you to mix yourself in this abominable 
scheme — you, my seeming friend ? " 

"Friend — yes, your friend," Myra murmurs with white lips. 

" What can have transformed you — you whom I remember ten 
years ago candid and fresh and innocent? You, the daughter of 
a gentleman and a soldier. What can have tempted you to 
become — tlifi name is too vile: I cannot it,." 

332 Hostages to Fortune. 

"What has transformed me!" echoes Myra, confronting him 
desperately, all thought or escape abandoned, despair and passion 
overwhelming every instinct of self-preservation. " What ! Do 
you pretend not to know ; you who tempted me ; you who have 
seemed so happy at my side — at my feet almost — all through the 
summer that is gone ? You ask me that — you who have left your 
wife to solitude, or baby-worship, and given me the first- 
fruits of your wit and wisdom, all your golden leisure ; you who 
have made your art a pretext to be happy with me ; you who 
have suffered me to think that the old love has come back to life ? 
And now you dare to ask me what tempted me ! You, and you 
only ; my love for you, which is stronger than myself ; my hope 
of loosening the bond between you and your foolish wife. Yes, 
I avow it ; I am that vile thing your lips refuse to name. I 
egged on Lyndhurst in his pursuit of your wife ; I suggested the 
telegram which was to bring her to Ostend and blast her reputa- 
tion, and give you ground for a divorce. If my scheme had 
prospered, you would have been a free man, and would have 
come back to me. A nine days' wonder, a newspaper report, and 
you and I would have been free to begin a new life, all the world 
before us — fame, and hope, and the old love made young again." 

" Do you think I should have come back to you ? " asks 
Herman, with deliberate contempt. " Do you think — even if I 
had been caught in your trap, and had believed my wife what 
Jrou would have had me believe her — do you think I should have 
brought my wounded heart to you for comfort — to you, who live 
before the lights, and are falser off the stage than on it ; to 
you, who believe in no God, fear no devil ? No, Mrs. Brandreth ; 
you. are a charming companion for a dull Sunday afternoon, an 
admirable hostess, an artist of the highest flight, but to share a 
nan 's hopes, to lift his soul above this sordid earth, is not your metier. 
[ did not believe that it was in you to grovel in a moral gutter, 
;ven for the indulgence of a cherished caprice, which you honour 
yourself and me too much by calling love. I am sorry that 
Jolonel Clitheroe's daughter should have fallen so low. For the 
•est, I am happy to tell you that my wife and I were never more 
jnited than we are at this moment, and that the prospect of our 
.named life never seemed brighter to us than it seems to-day. " 

She tries to answer him, facing him defiantly, erect, drawn to 
ier fullest height, like a martyr at the stake ; but the pale lips 
nove tremulously and make no sound'. Her throat is parched ; 
words will not come at her bidding. Her brain clouds ; she feels 
is if this were the first warning of some awful seizure. 

Herman turns on his heel and leaves the room without another 
ivord. Lord Earlswood, brushing his hat assiduously with hi3 
pale gray glove, slowly follows. 

Hostages to Fortune. o33 

"!" she says, with a laugh, such a curious laugh, "are 
you going too ? You know all now; you know how foolish I 
have been, and who was your only rival. But I am cured now ; 
I have had my lesson." 

It flashes upon her bewildered brain that after all there is one 
resource still left her. Love is a sealed book evermore, a sepul- 
chre that holds only the ashes of dead hopes ; but ambition 
remains. She may be a peeress — the fashion. She may have 
place and power, and diamonds and palaces, and all those good 
things for which other women are ready to sell their souls. She 
has ventured hers on a more foolish game, and, lo, her reward ! 
This poor Earlswood will have been disconcerted, no doubt, by 
Herman's disclosures — cruel, heartless, iniquitous, from lips she 
has worshipped. But he is so soft and slavish a creature, and so 
blindly adores her, she does not fear the issue. 

He turns at her voice, and pauses on the threshold, but does not 
come back to her — not by so much as a step. She wonders to 
see him stand there immovable, looking down with an embarrassed 
air, and still engaged in smoothing that hat of his — the most 
perfect thing in hats ; with the very curve affected by princes. 

" You say youhave had your lesson," he says slowly. " I don't 
think you can need any commentary upon it from me. I am rather 
an easy-going kind of fellow in a general way — not shocked at a 
trifle. I don't expect women to be perfect, or the essence of truth 
even. But there is a line,- you have overstepped it. Good evening. " 

He is gone, and she knows that it is for ever. Love and am- 
bition have gone out of the door together, and left her lonely. 


" ' Who calleth thee, Heart ? World's Strife, 
With a golden heft to his knife ; 
World's Mirth, with a finger fine 
That draws on a board in wine 

Her blood-red plans of life ; 
World's Gain, with a brow knit down; 
World's Fame, with a laurel crown 
Which rustles most as the leaves turn brown: 
Heart, wilt thou go ? ' 

' No, no ! 
Calm hearts are wiser so.' " 
Herman goes back to London and faces his difficulties boldly. 
His creditors — tailor, bootmaker, bookseller, frame-maker, corn- 
chandler, wine-merchant, and the rest of them — would be easy 
enough to deal with, but the bill of sale is in the grip of a relent- 
less usurer, and there is nothing but to make a clean sweep of 
things, and see the pretty rooms at Fulhani pulled to pieces : the 

334 Hostages to Fortune. 

Pompeian dining-room, the Dutch drawing-room brought piece- 
meal to the hammer ; the graceful draperies folded into unsightly 
bundles ; the Sevres and majolica and terra-cotta and bronze, the 
old Moscow China and modern Minton all jumbled together upon 
a kitchen table and disfigured with lot numbers ; to see grimy 
brokers banded together in their villainous " knock-out," and to 
know that his goods stand in danger of being disposed of for less 
than their value. All this Herman endures, and attends the sale 
bravely in order to secure sundry trifles which he knows Editlia 
especially cherishes. He contrives, with friendly help from his 
publisher, to rescue the Squire's wedding gift, that old silver 
which has been in the Morcombe family for a century and a half. 
Everybody is very good to him. It seems to him that the 
world is not such a bad world after all, even for a man under a 
cloud, albeit he has so heartily abused it in occasional fits of 
spleen. All his old friends rally round him ; and for the new 
ones, those who have come to his house out of curiosity, and 
affected his society because he was the fashion ? — well, he can 
afford to lose the few flimsy acquaintances who fall away in the 
hour of need. It is but a winnowing of the chaff from the corn. 
He remembers what Coleridge says of such — 
" If a foe have kenn'd, 
Or worse than foe, an alienated friend, 
A rib of dry rot in thy ship's stout side, 
Think it God's message, and in hnmble pride 
AVitli heart of oak replace it ; thine the gains- 
Give him the rotten timber for his pains." 
He lakes a couple of rooms in Bloomsbury, where he can work 
for a few quiet hours every night while he is engaged during the 
day in the adjustment of his affairs. He examines his stock in 
trade and finds himself not badly off. There is that comedy 
planned for the most part in Mrs. Brandreth's drawing-room, two 
acts of which are completed and set up in type. He has also a 
novel half-finished. He determines to finish the play before he 
leaves London, and if possible to plant it advantageously. There 
will hardly be any difficulty about this ; for his name is allied 
with the success of the Frivolity Theatre, and he will be gladly 
welcomed at any comedy house in London. 

For his novel, how sweet to finish it in the rustic quiet of 
Lochwithian, to read his story aloud to Editlia, chapter by 
chapter, to subordinate his style te her refining taste, to think 
and dream over his work before he gives it to the world as he has 
been unable to think or dream in the fever of metropolitan life, 
amidst the distractions of clubs and dinner-parties ! He writes 
to his wife almost every day, if only a few lines, and his letters, 
however brief, are full of love and gladness. He writes like a 
lover for whom wedded life is vet to begin. 

Hostages to Fortune. 335 

E;!i:ha's letters, save upon the subjeet of Ruth's failing health 
declining day by day, are cheering. The Squire has taken the 
tidings of his son-in-law's ruin more patiently than his daughter 
could have hoped, and has expressed no surprise at the fact. 

" I expected it all along," he has said, after a few feeble 
groans. " What else can one look for from a man who writes 
books ? You can't suppose that such a man will be practical or 
business-like, or keep an eye upon pounds, shillings, and pence. 
His ideas are all up in the skieu. I wonder such men walk 
straight, and don't get run over. No, I am not surprised, Editha. 
I'm sony for you, of course, but you must have expected as 
much when you married him.. And poor Hethcridge ready to make 
you mistress of as fine an estate as you could see in a day's ride. 
A practical man too ; not a better farmer in all Brecknockshire." 

The Squire, having moaned his moan, is kind, but does not 
offer substantial aid, finding the daily calls upon his income 
quite as much as he can satisfy. There is a home for Herman 
and his wife at the Priory, he tells Editha, as long as they like 
to stay there ; but Editha knows that dependence of this kind 
would not suit her husband's temper, and her thoughts are of 
the cottage yonder on the slope of the hill. 

She and Euth have long and confidential talks about the 
future of this prodigal couple in those happier days when Euth 
is at her best, and fear gives way to hope for a little while. Dr. 
Davis, good-natured little man, has pronounced no sentence of 
doom. He comes and goes in his quiet way, and is attentive 
and watchful, and enjoins especial care of the invalid as the 
au'tumn days grow shorter and colder ; but he tells no one that 
which he knows too well : that all that is earthly in Euth Mor- 
cOmbe is fading fast, like summer's last roses by the fountain 
yonder ; that while the spirit brightens day by day its mortal 
tabernacle as surely decays. He leaves them as long as he can 
the respite of uncertainty. 

" If we could only set up housekeeping again in that pic- 
turesque cottage ! " sighs Editha, sitting in her favourite attitude 
by Ruth's pillow, Herman's last letter in her lap. 

"And why not, darling? " asks Ruth, with her glorified smile. 

" Well, dear, there is the question of fu-rniture ; however 
simple, you know, it must cost money. There are such innu- 
merable items — mattresses and coal-scuttles and saucepans and 
door-mats — that hardly come into one's idea of a house ; but 
they must be had all the same. One couldn't get on for a day 
without a flour-dredger, and one's whole system of housekeeping 
would break down if one forgot to buy a cruet-stand. I always 
envy our cottagers, beginning with a bedstead and bedding, a 
few chairs and a table, half a dozen cups and saucers and plates 

336 Hostages to Fortune. 

bought of a travelling hawker, and just enough hardware to 
cook a dinner of bacon and cabbage. But if we were ever so 
poor, Herman would expect his dinner-table to be just as well 
arranged as at his club. He would be content with claret at eighteen- 
pence a bottle, but he would not drink it out of a clumsy glass. How- 
ever, we must rub on in furnished lodgings for a year or so, not 
far from here, dearest — at Llandrysak, perhaps— till Herman has 
earned enough to furnish a new home. I will take care there 
shall be no extravagance this time, no long bill from a fashionable 
upholsterer to burst upon us like a bomb-shell some morning." 

" Darling, why should you wait ? " asks Ruth, in that sweet 
serious voice of hers— so low yet so clear, so gently persuasive. 
" I know your heart is longing for that house on the hillside, and 
for the pleasure of furnishing a new home after your own simple 
taste. Why should it not be done at once ? All that I have is 
yours : it is only a question of now or later." 

" Ruth ! " exclaims Editha, with a piteous little cry. 

" Dearest, we know what must be soon, though we do not 
speak of it. We are in the hands of the All- Wise. It is not loss 
or sorrow coming upon us, only a brief parting. My pet, why 
do you cry like that, when you see how happy I am, knowing 
that you are beloved, that all that was amiss in your life is set 
right ? Let us talk of your new house, dear. It must be got ready 
at once. I have five hundred pounds in the bank that will just 
do to buy furniture. You shall go to Shrewsbury with papa and 
choose the things. Indeed, love, I have no use for the money ; 
it is only lying idle. I gave papa a new steam-plough on his 
last birthday, and made him happy. I shall have my dividends 
again before his next birthday, if God spares me so long, and 
can give him something more for his farm." 

" Ruth, you are too good, too generous. I accept your gift 
gratefully, gladly : there never could be any sense of obliga- 
tion between you and me." 

It is all settled. Next morning's post brings Editha a long letter 
from Herman, telling her that the sale is over ; that their goods and 
chattels realised a fair price on the whole, despite the knockers-out. 

" A few good fellows of my acquaintance ventilated the 
things at the clubs, dear," writes Herman cheerily — " said I was 
going to live in Wales, on your estate, and that if people wanted 
to see aesthetic chairs and tables they had better have a look at 
my villa. So a lot of notoriety -mongers came down and bought 
coffee-tables and bronzes and teacups that had belonged to the 
popular dramatist. One poor old lady in dyed hair fought hard 
for your work-table, but I would have sacrificed a year's income 
on the spot rather than let it go. You will be pleased to hear 
that I have secured most of your favourite objects : the little 

Hostages to Fortune. 337 

Copenhagen dejeuner you used for afternoon tea, your easy- 
chair, your pet-chromos, the bronze Psyche you used to admire, 
and various trifles for which you had an affection. The Squire's 
wedding-gift — Paul Lemery's silver — is snugly reposing at the 
Union Bank. So ruin has spared us a few oddspars from the wreck." 

This letter gladdens Editha's heart ; for it assures her that his 
homo has been dear to Herman, and that its relics are sacred. 
She writes him an answer full of gratitude. It is more than kind 
of him to have remembered her likings and fancies in the midst of 
his troubles. She is quite hopeful about the future, she tells him, but 
says not a word of Ruth's generosity or of a new home. She winds 
up by asking him how soon he will be able to come down to the 
Priory, but adds, with gentle self-abnegation, that he must take 
his own time in settling his affairs and finishing the play he has 
told her about, and not wear himself out by too rapid work. 

The truth underlying this wifely injunction is that Editha — 
fondly as she longs for the hour of reunion — has business of im- 
portance to get through before that hour comes. She and Euth 
talk over their plans together like a pair of conspirators, and are 
as earnest and mysterious as if they were hatching treason. 

Herman toils on with indomitable energy. He finishes his 
play — a comedy of the Sardou school, with a vein of strong 
domestic interest — finishes it to his own satisfaction. In these 
desperate crises of life a man seems to work with more than his 
normal strength, there is a force and fire engendered of stern neces- 
sity. He offers the piece to a West-end manager, and his offer 
is received with rapture. The leading actress is enchanted at 
the idea of playing a part intended for Mrs. Brandreth. Herman 
has confessed frankly that the piece was planned for the 
Frivolity, but that he has changed his mind about it. 

" Some disagreement about terms, I suppose," suggests the 

" No ; I have had no reason to complain of Mrs. Brandreth's 
liberality," answers Herman, " and I shall be quite satisfied if you 
give me the same terms. But I thought, as the piece progressed, 
that the character was — well, hardly suited to her. However, you 
had better read the piece, and see if you would like to produce it." 

" A work of supererogation," says the manager. " I feel con- 
vinced it will do. If it is as good as Kismet — " 

" I venture to hope and believe that it is better than Kismet.'" 

The manager reads, and is delighted. Becklessness and dash 
are the prevailing characteristics of the play, but there is no 
offence in it. It paints the last follies of modern society ; it 
strikes to the heart of domestic life, and shows the pathetic side 
of characters which on the surface are broadly comic. 

So one dull morning early in November the company of that 

338 Hostages to Fortune. 

famous comedy house, the Pall-Mail, assemble to hear Herman 
read his play. He is perhaps a shade more nervous than he was 
last time at the Frivolity, or the time before last ; for that strong 
rock, his self-esteem, has been shaken, though not overthrown. 
It trembles on its basis like the famous Logan rock, on the wild 
Cornish shore, but the basis is sound enough, all the same. Her- 
man feels that success is more vital to him just now than it has 
ever been. He is beginning a new career. He has fortune to 
win — a new name to create. He has worked hard and honestly 
at this last play, with a dogged determination to do his uttermost. 
He has a feeling that it must be a startling success or a stupen- 
dous failure. There will be no succes cVestime this time. And 
though he thinks of Myra Brandreth the woman with a shudder 
of utter loathing, he thinks of Mrs. Brandreth the actress with 
a touch of regret. There is no one like her. She has a finesse, 
a power of seizing the author's meaning and making the utmost 
of it, a power of imparting force and depth to the author's 
language, which startle him — the creator and originator — like a 
revelation, until he asks himself wonderingly : "Did I ever intend 
this ? Did I see what a great effect I was leading up to here ? " 

As compared with all other acting Myra's seems inspiration. 
Miss Delavigne, the leading actress at the Pall-Mail, has vigour 
and dramatic instinct ; a pleasing face ; a fine contralto voice, 
fall and round and sweet ; dark eyes with a sunny smile in them 
— and there are so few eyes that smile — but she has not Myra's 
electric intensity, those looks that seem to burn, those thrilling 
tones that move her audience to sudden tears before they have 
time to be ashamed of their weakness. 

Herman glances furtively at the circle of strange faces before he 
begins to read. A grave interest is the predominating expression ; 
but in one or two there is a sour look, a shade of discontent in ad- 
vance, as much as to say, " I know my part will be worth nothing." 

He reads — reads as he used to read to Editha in the first year 
of their married life — reads well too, though he is nervous at 
starting. Miss Delavigne listens intently ; Mr. M'AUister, the 
light comedian, grins approvingly now and then; Mr. Vickery, 
the old man, mutters an occasional " Good again," in his quaint 
voice. The points all tell. Yes, Herman feels that, so far at least, 
his piece is safe. Never has be been so anxious. He wipes his 
damp forehead when the last act is finished, and feels as if he 
were the veriest tyro, and had been reading his first attempt. _ 

This business settled, he is free to go down to Lochwithian, 
and he loses not an hour before starting. 

The horror of those three days at Ostend has taught him how- 
much he loves his wife, how needful her love and truth are to his 
p eace — better than their two years of tranquil wedded happiness. 

Ho.s-fto/es to Fortune. 339 

He has believed her lost to him, and has measured her worth by 
the blankness of his life without her, 

Happy November day which sees him pacing the picturesque 
old streets of Shrewsbury, during the hour's delay unavoidable 
at the break in his journey. Happy day, light and bright and 
pleasant, though a drizzling rain falls fast all the while, and 
Shrewsbury's flagstones are sloppy. He treads as lightly, and 
feels as airy and irresponsible a creature, as a schoolboy going 
home for the holidays. He does not even envy the Shrewsbury 
boys, once famous for winning big prizes at the universities, as 
they come whooping out of the grave old gothic school. He 
envies nobody to-day. He is hastening to Editha ; he is able to 
tell her that his new comedy is to be played six weeks hence at 
the Pall-Mail ; that his debts are paid ; that he is to have a thousand 
pounds down on the nail for his new novel, and a half share 
in all profits accruing from the sale of all editions thereof after 
the first sis months. He will stay at the Priory for two or three 
weeks while he and Editha are deliberating as to where they 
shall pitch their tent, temporarily, in a furnished house or in 
lodgings. But to take up his abode in another man's house — 
even his father-in-law's — for any length of time is not to be 
thought of. He has made up his mind, virtuously, to live wherc- 
ever Editha likes in future. All places are within easy reach of 
London nowadays. It is only a question of an hour or two more 
or less in a railway carriage. To live in the Lake district in 
Southey's time, when a journey to London and back meant a 
week in a stifling incommodious stage-coach, must have been 
absolute exile from the metropolis ; and yet these poets seem to 
have dwelt among the lakes and mountains for sheer pleasure. 
And why should not he, for Editha's dear sake, reconcile himself 
to a perpetual prospect of hills and woods, blue sky and rose- 
garden ? The streets would seem so much the more delightful 
when he did go to London. And again, of distinction in living 
thus remote, a being apart from the vulgar throng. Tennyson 
in the Isle of Wight, Hugo at Guernsey, Madame Sand at 
Xohant: yes, great intellects are fond of solitude. To be de- 
pendent upon a literary club for one's ideas, to find one's inspira- 
tion in Hyde Park, is to acknowledge one's self a poor creature. 

The train stops at Llandrysak station. No one to watch its 
arrival to-day. Llandrysak looks like a settlement that has 
gone to sleep ; the hotels are empty and desolate. The 
common is a gray waste under a sunless sky. The rain has 
ceased, but there is an all-pervading dampness. The solitary 
porter at the station is dumfounded at sight of a passenger. 
His brother in porterage has been knocked off for the w-inter, and 
this one's post is all but a sinecure. He devotes himself chiefly 

340 Hostages to Fortune. 

to agriculture on strips of kitchen-garden that border the line. 

" But you belong somewhere hereabouts, don't you, sir ? " he 
inquires of Herman, anxious to account for the phenomenon of 
his appearance. 

" Yes ; I am going to Lochwithian Priory." 

" Yes, indeed, sir. I thought I knew your face. Strangers don't, 
often come this way in winter. Shall I take your portmanteau 
down to the Priory, sir ? " as if it were a matter of half a mile or so. 

" If you like to earn a couple of shillings that way, you can ; 
or I can send one of the Priory men for it." 

" I'll take it, sir." 

Herman has not written to announce his coming. He wants 
to surprise Editha, and even the idea of an eight-mile walk does 
not appal him. The clear sweet air inspires him like a draught 
of nectar. It is like entering a new world with a new atmo- 
sphere after London smoke and fog. " Yes, the country is very 
nice for a change," Herman thinks, patronising the prospect, as 
he looks along the winding road. The calm gray hills are half 
veiled in silvery mist, the fir-trees by the quarry yonder stand 
out darkly against a soft gray sky. 

" These are the scenes she loves," he tells himself, and he has 
a friendly feeling for the autumnal landscape, with its subdued 
colouring and sober light. 

It is a long walk for a man accustomed to London paving- 
stones and hansom cabs ; but Herman's step is light and quick 
to-day. He was never in better spirits ; never, in the first bloom 
and freshness of his courtship, did he hasten more gladly to the 
woman he loves. That play at the Pali-Mall will be a success, 
he feels sure ; and his book — he is free to meditate upon that 
now, and happy thoughts crowd upon him as he walks briskly 
along that lonely road — going a mile at a stretch sometimes with- 
out meeting a human creature ; up hill and down dale, by open 
common and high-wooded banks, with hills, hills, hills, circling 
the landscape always ; now far off, now near ; some of them so 
gray and distant that they are like shadows of hills faintly de- 
lined against a shadowy sky. 

He sees the happy valley at last lying below him, steep heathery 
hills guarding it like giant watch-towers, the gray stones of the 
ruined Priory showing against the soddened grass. A turn in 
the road, and the new Priory — the good old Tudor dwelling- 
house, with its clusters of red-brick chimneys, its stone-mullioned 
windows — looks down upon him from its elevated position above 
shrubberied banks and sloping lawns, and the thicket where the 
young larches shine silvery white in the spring time, and where 
a few scarlet berries still linger on the mountain ashes, and the 
last tawny leaves on the young oaks. 

uj-usiii-ycs to ToriunG. .'>11 

How quiet the old house looks on this still autumn day ; not a 
leaf stirring. But for that gray smoke curling slowly upward, 
it might be a house in a picture. 

Great heaven, the blinds are all down ! The church-bell begins 
to toll dismally. There is some one dead. 

Herman stops as if he were turned to stone, and clings to the 
gate as he counts the strokes of that iron tongue. 


" 'Tivas but just now she went away — 

I : ave not since had time to shed a tetir ; 

And yet the distance does the same appear, 

As if she had been a thousand years from me. 

Time takes no measure in eternity." 

" Nay, wilt thou fill that place by me which is 

fill d by dead eyes too tender to know change? 

That's hardest." 

SEVK>?-A>:n-'nvENTY times tolls the bell, telling the age of (hat 

departed one for whom it lifts up its iron lamentation. Seven-and- 

twenty years of age, and Editlia is only twenty-three. 

" Thank God, thank God ! " cries Herman. But while the bell 
bas been tolling, he has endured an agony greater than that un- 
disciplined heart of his has ever known before. 

He breathes again, and still pauses at the gate wondering. He 
looks down the little village street, a street of about fifteen 
houses, and sees that all the windows are darkened. A woman 
comes to her door with a broom, and sweeps the threshold with a 
depressed air. Herman goes across the road to question her. 
He has not the heart to enter the Priory just yet. 

" Who is dead ? " he asks. 

" Miss Morcombe, sir ; the Squire's eldest daughter and our 
true friend. She died two hours ago. There isn't a man, woman, 
or child within hearing of that bell that hasn't loved her and been 
the better for her kindness. It's a dark day for Lochwithian." 

" It must have been very sudden," says Herman. 

Editha's letters have told him of Ruth's feeble state, but have 
been hopeful about her notwithstanding. 

" Yes, sir ; it was cruelly sudden. We knew that she was 
weakly. Dr. Davis has been to see her every day for a long 
time, and he has shook his head sometimes when he has been 
asked about her. But the end came very sudden all the same. 
Poor Miss Editha — I beg pardon, sir, Mrs. Westray — it's an awful 
blow for her. But I'm right down glad you've come." 

Herman is glad too, even in the midst of his sorrow. It is 
something to be here to comfort his darling in this the sharpest. 
trial that has ever come upon her. He goes slowly up to the house, 


342 Hostages to Fortune. 

sees oneof the old servants, whose eyelids are swollen with weeping. 

" sir, I am so glad you have come ! Poor Miss Editlia ! " 

They call her thus still at the Priory at odd times. 

" Will you tell her ihat I am here ? or can I go to her ? " 

" She is up-stairs, sir, in Miss Morcombe'sroom. Mr. Petherick 
is with her, I think." 

"And the Squire?" 

" Poor dear gentleman, he's almost distracted. He has shut 
himself up in his study, and won't see anybody. It came upon 
him so sudden, you see, sir. Our dear young lady took a turn for 
the worse yesterday afternoon, and at daybreak this morning she 
began to sink." 

Herman goes up to that white-and-green morning-room he 
knows so well, the place in which he has spent so many an hour 
of tranquil happiness. The room opening out of this is the 
death-chamber. Editha is prostrate on the sofa — Euth's sofa — 
her face buried in the silken pillow, sobbing piteously. Good 
Parson Petherick sits beside her, his hand on her shoulder, his face 
very pale, and with a look of pain that alters it strangely. At 
sight of Herman he rises, and resigns his place to the husband. 

" This is well-timed," he whispers. " She has sore need of 
comfort. This loss falls heavy upon all of us." 

" Darling, I am here to share your grief," Herman says gently. 

Editha starts and trembles at the sound of his voice, then raises 
herself from the sofa and falls sobbing upon his breast. 

" Herman, I have lost her — the dearest, the best, and truest. 
There is none like her. Love me, dear, love me with all your 
heart. I have only you now." 

"My dearest, you have had the first place in my heart always, 
from the first time we met. You have been loved with all my 
heart ; you shall be, while that heart beats. My own one, be com- 
forted. Your sister was like an angel while she was with us ; 
she is with the angels now." 

Hard for a man to say these things who believes in very little, 
to whom the angelic host are a semi-mythical people popularised 
by Milton and the Italian painters. But it may be that before 
the mystery of death even the sceptic believes and trembles. 

" Yes. She has only gone from me a few hours, yet I think of 
her among the company of angels. I have but to close my eyes, 
and I can see her in that angelic throng. They turn their shining 
faces towards me, full of pity, and hers is the brightest of all. It is 
selfish to regret her, selfish sorrow that tears at my heart ; but she 
was so dear — my comforter, my guide, my second self ! " 

" Dearest, I will try to fill her vacant place ; grief shall draw 
us nearer together. I have been careless, neglectful, self-seeking ; 
but I have never been unfaithful in thought or word or wish. 

Hostages to fortune. 343 

My love has never been lessened. It has grown and strength- 
ened with the progress of our wedded life." 

Mr. Petherick has left them. They are alone together ; but 
their tones are hushed and low, subdued to reverence by that 
solemn presence in the adjoining room. Herman tempts his 
wife out into the garden by-and-by in the winter dusk, and they 
walk by the beds where late autumn flowers are fading and by 
the fountain where they sat together as strangers three year.s 
ago. Editha tells her husband about Ruth's illness and that 
sudden change which heralded death, and there is a melancholy 
comfort in talking of these things. 

" It was such a peaceful end, Herman. 0, may death come to 
us like that, with a smile of welcome ! " 

* * # ' # * # # 

It is afternoon on the day of the funeral. Ruth has been laid in 
her quiet resting-place. The simple people who have loved her 
have come from far and near — some who have only known her 
sweetness from hearsay, but have been not the less the recipients 
of her bounty. All is over. The weeping crowd has dispersed ; 
the Priory windows let in the cold gray light upon rooms that 
seem desolate, though she rarely entered them. 

Her will is read to the little circle — father, sister, Herman, Mr. 
Petherick, and the faithful old upper^ervants. How loving, how 
thoughtful of those she loves, is the disposal of her small pro- 
perty ! It is only two hundred a-year she has to deal with, yet 
she remembers every one. 

She leaves her capital in trust, making Mr. Petherick and Her- 
man joint trustees. Fifty pounds a year is to be paid the Squire 
for his life, " so that my dear father may buy something for his 
home-farm, and think it is a birthday present from his loving 
daughter." This fifty pounds is to revert to Editha at the Squire's 
death. A hundred a year is left to Editha unconditionally. 
The remaining fifty is also left to Editha, for half-yearly dis- 
tribution among certain pensioners whose names are duly set down. 

To each of the old servants Ruth bequeaths some token of her 
love : to one her wardrobe, to another her watch, to others small 
sums of money. To Herman and Mr. Petherick she leaves her 
library, to be equally divided ; to Editha the harmonium and many 
small objects of art which she has purchased from time to time. 

After the reading of the will Herman and his wife stroll out into 
the garden and along the road, where the dusk is thickening. 

They have talked of their beloved dead and of little else since 
Herman's coming. It is as if they had been living in some 
strange semi -spiritual world — a border-land between life and 
death. The landscape has an unsubstantial air to Herman's 
fancy in the sombre light. 

344 jtlostujes to Fortune. 

" Is she not good, Herman — thoughtful, tender, loving ? " asks 
Editha. pondering upon Kuth's will. 

" She is all that the pure-minded and perfect are, dearest ; a 
woman without thought of self ; and her sister is like her." 

They speak of their dead in the present tense still. 

"And now, love, let us talk of our future," says Herman, 
anxious to divert his wife's mind from that one ohject on which 
die has brooded for the last six days and nights. " We have the 
whole business of life to settle : a home to find, a nursery i '• >r 
baby, a coach-house for baby's perambulator. We cannot stay 
with the Squire for ever, you know : a whole family — husband and 
wife and baby and nurse. It is too much for paternal affection." 

" Papa would be glad to have us for the rest of our lives, Herman." 

" My dearest, it would be death to my manhood. I should fold 
my hands and sit down, like the companions of Ulysses, and 
meditate for years upon some magnum ojms never to be written, 
I should be too lazy to put pen to paper if there were no butcher 
and baker to be satisfied, if I were never reminded that I have 
given hostages to Fortune. Who loves work for its own sake ? 
Not I, for sure. Who would not rather lie among the bluebells 
in the April woods, or ride over the crisp leaves in autumn, than 
sit at his desk and labour to reduce airy fancies, happy thoughts, 
vague unfinished dreams into clear and harmonious prose? 
No, love ; we must have a house of our own, and I must see the 
baker's cart under my window every morning to remind me that 
I am a bread-winner." 

" Then you would much rather we had our own house, Herman ? " 

" Yes, dear, though it were a hovel, pourvu the drainage was 
decent, and though we lived on bread-and-cheese." 

" Yet you were so particular about the dinners at Fulham." 

" That is past and gone. At Fulham I was the slave of 
worldly passions, epicueanism was exacerbated by the know- 
ledge of half a dozen West-end clubs within reach. Your club 
is the nursery-garden where the weed selfishness grows into a 
tree big enough to overshadow the land. We will live on 
bread-and-cheese, darling, with a haunch of Radnorshire mutton 
on high days and holidays, and a capon from papa's poultry -yard 
now and then on a Sunday or a birthday. I daresay, if we lived 
near enough, your father would find us in milk and garden-stuff." 

" As if papa would grudge us anything ! He has given baby 
such a beautiful cow, a perfect pet, like Landseer's in the ' Maid 
and the Magpie.' Would you mind coming a little way farther, 
Herman ? There is a house I should like so much to show you." 

This little domestic talk has brightened her. There is more 
cheerfulness to be extracted from these commonplace sub- 
jects sometimes than from all the philosophy of_ Plato or Bacon. 

Hostages to Fortune. IJ45 

They turn into a narrower road, that climbs a little way up 
the base of the hill. Here they find a garden, guarded by a holly- 
hedge, surrounding a rustic cottage of the Anglo-Swiss type. 

Editha lifts the latch, and they go in.. The garden is in perfect 
order. A few late roses linger still on the standards and on the cot- 
tage walls. The lawn is like velvet, the gravel-paths carefully rolled. 

" Is this the house you talked of, Editha ? " 

" Yes, dear." 

" But you told me it was empty, neglected." 

" So it was a month ago. But it has been taken and furnished 
since then." 

" What a pity ! " 

" Do you thinkwe csuld have afforded the rent,fif ty poundsa year?" 

" A bagatelle. Bridge-end House was a hundred-and-twenty." 

" But the furniture ? " 

" Ah, that's a poser ; for I am determined to eschew credit. 
Do you know the new tenants ? " 


" How nicely they've done up the place, and what pretty 
curtains ! " exclaims Herman, looking at the cretonne draperies 
of the drawing-room window. 

" Do you think so ? I'm so glad," cries Editha, radiant. 

Herman looks at her wonderingly ; but she runs on before 
and opens the hall-door, a half-glass door, through which he 
sees the bright little hall : chromo-lithographs on the pale-green 
walls, a statuette here and there. 

" You may come in, you may look about ; I know the tenant quite 
well. She will not be angry," cries Editha ; and her husband follows. 

Hand in hand they go from room to room. All is pretty, 
simple, cottage-like, bright and fresh and innocent as a summer 
morning. In one of the three bedchambers there is a brazen cot, 
with white curtains bordered with modern point-lace. The drawing- 
room chimney-piece has its border of point-lace also, that artistic 
reproduction of old designs in which Editha excels, by the way. 

" Now for the Bluebeard chamber," says Editha, as she pauses 
at a door on the stairs, and gives Herman a key. " Open it 
yourself, dear, if you please." 

He unlocks the door and goes in, Editha close behind him. 
This is the largest room of all ; the floor stained to resemble 
oak, and well bee's-waxed ; a small Axminster carpet in the 
centre ; a large polished pitch-pine writing-table with many 
drawers ; an easy-chair ; a pair of Glastonbury chairs, pitch 
pine like the desk ; pitch-pine bookshelves from floor to ceiling 
all round the room ; a book-ladder ; and in the window, which com- 
mands a mighty sweep of hill and valley, Editha's own particulai 
work table, which Herman sent down to the Priory after the sale, 

346 Hostages to Fortune. 

"What does it all mean, Editha? Surely that is your work- 
table, or I am dreaming." 

" It means that this is our house, dear Herman. The furniture 
is Euth's last gift. She never took more pleasure in anything 
earthly than in the furnishing of this house. I would not tell 
you a wo ,- d about it in my letters. I wanted to surprise you." 

" As if any act of womanly goodness in you or Euth could 
surprise me," says Herman, clasping her to his heart. 

"It was all Euth's doing," Editha murmurs; "the greatest 
happiness I looked forward to in this house was to have lived near 
her, to have seen her every day, and now I am only near her grave." 

She keeps back her tears bravely, not willing to spoil Herman's 
welcome to his new home. 

Selina— the faithful Selina, humble friend in the hour of 
trouble — comes in smiling with a teatray. She is neatly clad in 
half-mourning, and wears a pretty little mobcap — stupendous 
concession. But then caps are coming into fashion, and her 
mistress wears the same coiffure in the morning. 

" Isn't that a Fulham face ? " asks Herman. 

" Yes ; I sent for Selina directly the house was ready. She 
is the best of girls ; and I have a Welsh cook who is a pattern 
of economy. Nurse is going back to town, and Selina and I 
are going to take care of baby between us. I am not going to 
ruin you a second time, Herman." 

Whereupon Herman Westray protests that in him and not in 
Editha lav the primal cause of their ruin. 

" And are you sure you like the house, dearest ? " asks the wife 
anxiously as they sip their afternoon tea beside the fire, which 
burns so brightly on the hearth of home. " Everything is very 
plain. I was determined to be economical, but I tried to choose 
artistic-L?oking things." 

" And you have succeeded, dearest. This house looks like the 
home of an artist." 

" See how many bookshelves I have given you. I felt that in 
the country you would want more books than in town." 

" My wisest and best ! Yes, I shall turn book-collector. That 
side for books of reference ; that block facing the window for 
history ; a corner for philosophy ; a shelf or two for the good old 
divines with their strong ponderous English ; the poets on each 
side of the fireplace, nearest to hearth and heart." 

They sit talking till it is quite dark outside that large square window 
facing the hills. Selina comes in to ask if they would like candles. 
" No, Selina ; we must go home to dinner. Shall we come here 
for good to-morrow, Herman ? " 

" We cannot come too soon. I'll telegraph to the Pantechnicon 
for my books ; I saved those from the wreck, you know. And now I 

Hostages to fortune. 317 

want to toll yon about my new piece. It is to be played in December." 

'' At the Frivolity? " asks Fditha, with a quiver of pain. 

They are in the dark road by this time, arm-in-arm. 

" No, dear ; I write no more for Mrs. Brandreth. Clod grant 
that Mrs. Brandreth and I may never meet again ! I told you in 
one of my letters that I had discovered the sender of that tele- 
gram, and begged you to ask me no more till we met." 

" Yes, Herman. I obeyed you." 

" Mrs. Brandreth was the person who sent it." 

"Yes, Herman." 

" And Mrs. Brandreth was — " 

" The woman who jilted you. I was told that, and I was told 
that you had never ceased to love her." 

" You were told by a liar and a villain, Editha. My heart lias 
never swerved from its devotion to you. I turn my back upon 
the world I have loved too well without one pang of regret. I 
look forward to our tranquil life among these hills with unalloyed 


" The good make a better bargain, and the bad a worse, than is usually 
supposed ; for the rewards of the one, and the punishment of the other, 
not unfrequently begin on this side of the grave." 

There is a fatal kind of success which attends the desperate 
player in life's hazard. Myra Biandreth has lost all — love, hope, 
self-respect ; her prosaic but most faithful adorer, Lord Earls- 
wood, and his following, which made up no inconsiderable part 
of her circle. The best people were for the most part brought 
to her Sunday-evening receptions by Lord Earlswood. Now 
that Lord Earlswood comes to her no longer, these best people 
drop away. They have an idea that she is not quite the correct 
person they imagined her, or else why does not Earlswood, whose 
platonic regard for her in days past was beautiful to see, marry 
her now that he is a free man ? 

Society opines that Lord Earlswood has found out something 
to Mrs. Brandreth' s disadvantage. As to what the something may 
be society speculates ingeniously, and there are various theories. 

Society is confirmed in its notion by the sale of the Frivolity. 
Theatre, which Lord Earlswood disposes of to an enterprising 
stockbroker, who is only too glad to renew Mrs. Brandreth's 
lease on favourable terms. 

Mvra has lost all except her art : that stands her in good stead, 
Herman's promised piece having been withdrawn, she looks about 
her for something that will startle the town. She will have 
ii' ithing of the cup-and-saucer comedy school. She wants strong 

•a play that her audience wili 

348 Hostages to Fortune. 

dream about. She wants to make such an effect as Kachel made 
in Adrienne Lecoucreur. 

Naturally she looks to the French stage for the source of some 
new play. She goes to Paris and sees a piece which has made 
itself the talk of that enlightened metropolis, partly from the 
audacity of subject and treatment, partly from the powerful 
acting of that lovely comedienne, Madame Finemouche, as the 
heroine. Even Parisian critics hint that the piece is " tant soit 
peu hasardee," and recommend that " les jeunes demoiselles, et 
meme les jeunes mariees," should refrain from attending the 
representation thereof. 

" C'est d'une audace magiiifLque ! Cela va jusq'au sublime ! 
On y rencontre des elans d'un veritable genie Dantesque. C'est 
la corruption dans toute son effrayante nuditeexposeeauxyeuxpar 
le ciseau d'un Michel Ange. C'est d'une desinvolture a f aire rough- 
Belot," and so on, ciy the critics in all the notes of the critical 

Mrs. Bnandreth sees this play, is thrilled with admiration at 
Madame Finemouche's performance, feels that it is a piece to 
outrage every English prejudice, to take the town by storm,, and 
draw no end of money, and makes up her mind to do it. She 
will transfer it to the stage of the Frivolity boldly, nakedly, as it 
is played in Paris. She will intrust the translation to some 
experienced dramatist, strong enough to turn brilliant French 
into sound and forcible English. She sees L' A nge Dechu on half 
a dozen consecutive evenings ; gives her mind to the play abso- 
lutely for a whole week ; learns every turn of Finemouche's 
head, every look, every tone, every phase of agony in the great 
poisoning scene at the end, where this angel of corruption, aux 
ahois, poisons herself, after having tried, more or less vainly, to 
poison her rival, her husband, and one or two other personages 
who are obstacles in the broad path of passion. 

Mrs. Brandreth turns Madame Finemouche's creation inside 
out, a 3 it were, and then determines to play the part in an en- 
tirely original manner. She in no wise denies the genius of the 
lovely Parisienne, but she will give the world of London her own 
conception of the character ; and those who have seen the piece 
in Paris, and who might naturally expect a faithful copy of the 
author's original interpreter, shall discover her power to achieve 
new and grander effects than the Frenchwoman, avec tout son 
Latin, has been able to produce. 

Mrs. Brandreth goes back to London with L'Ange Ddchu in 
her pocket, and the right to produce a literal translation of the 
same bought and paid for. She gives the play to Marcus Wil- 
loughby, a clever young dramatist who has written successfully 
for the Frivolity a season or two ago, and who enjoys tb# 

Hostages to Fortune. 34,9 

advantage of being dramatic critic on three or four journals of 
more or importance. 

" Well, my dear Mrs. Brandrcth," lie begins, when he calls 
upon the manageress next day in Kensington Gore, " I have 
read your piece, and — " 

'• You like it ?'' inquires Myra. 

" I think it extraordinarily powerful, startling, daring. The 
French are so much in advance of us in that line. Yes, it's a 
line piece, no doubt; but it will want no end of alteration 
before you can think of producing it at the Frivolity. In fact, 
co much alteration, there are such inherent difficulties, that I 
scarcely see my way to adapting it." 

" I don't want it adapted," answers Myra coolly. " I thought 
I told you that I wanted a translation. I have had enough of 
adaptations — whitewashed inanities, with no more flavour in them 
than there is in peaches preserved in tins. All I ask from you 
is terse and epigrammatic dialogue, and rigorous condensation 
in the mawkish scenes where the good people are talking." 
"My dear Mrs.Brandreth,it'simpossible. Have you read thepiece?" 
" I have seen it exactly six times, and read it twice." 
" And you absolutely mean to play it?' You'll ruin the theatre 
— even if you can get the play licensed, which I doubt." 

" I'll bring all London to the theatre. As for the Chamber- 
lain — well, I fancy the immorality is too refined to appear in a 
hasty perusal. We must try and smuggle it through somehow." 
" Why not make Angele Villeroy's sister instead of his wife, 
and Lavignon a bachelor ? There would be no harm then in 
their love scenes. We might make some clause in the father's 
will the obstacle to their marriage." 

"A purely English style of construction, in which probability 
is sacrificed to propriety. In order to escape the charge of im- 
morality, we make our plots more improbable than the wildest 
fairy tale. Now your French dramatist starts with a motive 
strong enough to overturn a family or an empire, and builds his 
dramatic edifice upon a substantial foundation. Translate this 
pi ay faithfully, Mr. Willoughby, or leave it alone." 

Mr. Willoughby obeys, glad to earn the wages of his labour. 
The play is a commission, and whether the Chamberlain licenses 
the piece or not, the translator must be paid. He does his best, 
doubtful as he feels about the issue, and works with an artistic 
pleasure in the manipulation of a really fine play. 

By one of those accidents which make theatrical adventure the 
most hazardous of speculations, the piece passes the censorship 
unchallenged, and, after laborious and most conscientious re- 
hearsal, Myra produces the Fallen Angel, more extravagantly, 
more exquisitely mounted than any play she has put upon her 

350 Hostages to Fortune. 

stage before. She is very reckless in money matters this season, 
less anxious than of old to avoid debt. She gives Mr. Nosotli 
carte-blanche for the furnishing of the drawing-room scene, and 
the result is a salon Louis Seize, in virgin gold, against a back- 
ground of apple-green satin. As for Mrs. Brandreth's dress-as, 
they are miracles of art and costliness, and turn the heads of 
half the women in London. Peacock's feathers, point-lace, 
beetles' wings, mother-of-pearl, diamonds. She rings the changes 
on the whole gamut of finery. But in the last act, the scene in 
which she achieves her triumph, she stands before her breathless 
audience robed in white cashmere, statuesque, classic as Rachel 
in Bacine's Phedre. The friendly newspapers praise the piece, 
but with caution ; the critical journals--— the Censor and Scourge, 
Connoisseur and Microcosm — set up a howl of denunciation, 
charging the virtuous British public to avoid the Frivolity as a 
pest-house infected with French poison. But Myra s acting has 
taken the town by storm before the Censor or the Scourge has 
come out with its condemnatory analysis of the piece. Everybody 
talks of her — everybody rushes to see her. That serpent-like 
grace, that poetic despair, that agonising death in the last scene 
— these things have thrilled to the heart of society, always ready 
for a sensation. The favourite question to start a dinner-table 
conversation — even before Patti or the Boyal Academy— is, 
" Have you seen Mrs. Brandreth in the Fallen Angel t" 

Once more in her life Myra Brandreth tastes the sweetness of 
artistic success. She drains the intoxicating cup greedily ; and 
makes the most of her triumph : shows herself in the Park, 
wearing that last fashionable combination of feathers and flowers 
which is called the Fallen Angel bonnet, because Mrs. Brandreth 
lias first exhibited this particular style of head-gear in the famous 
play. She drives a victoria elegant and airy enough for Queen 
Mab, and a new pair of horses for which she has given sis 
hundred pounds — she, the prudent housewife, whose care hitherto 
has been to make the greatest show with the smallest outlay, 
and to save money for evil days to come. She gives more dinners 
than usual this season, and talks of taking a house in Park -lane. 

So the season goes on. Everybody — except quite young per- 
sons — sees the Fallen Angel. The play will run till the end of 
the season, may run for any number of seasons, one would sup- 
pose, from the rush there is to see it just now. Places are to be 
booked three weeks or a month in advance. The theatre over- 
flows nightly. There are morning performances. Mrs. Brand- 
reth plays Angele de Villeroy twice every Saturday — seven times 
a week in all, an exhausting labour. 

The season is at its height, when one afternoon in the Park 
there is a rumour — no one knows who originated it — that Mrs. 

liustagcs to Fur tune. 351 

Brandrcth is ill, very ill, some sudden and dangerous attack, and 
that there will be no performance at the Frivolity this evening. 

A few people who have taken places look blank, and wonder 
whether it is " play or pay," whether their payments will hold 
good for another night, or whether, the entry being "scratched," 
they will forfeit their money. 

" What's the matter with her ? " asks Lady Leo Hunter of little 
Mr. Spinx of the clubs. " Has she lost her voice, poor thing ? " 

"Worse than that, I'm afraid. A fellow I know was at the 
theatre last night, and told me just at the last, after she'd taken 
the poison, you know, she staggered to the lights, stared wildly 
round the house as if she was looking for some one, and then 
fell suddenly forward — a very awkwasd fall, knocking her head 
against the angle of a table. Young Brown says, if he hadn't 
seen her in the piece so often, he should have thought it was all 
in the part — that awful stare round the house, and the cropper 
against the table, and all — ultra-realistic, you know ; but know- 
ing her business in the poison scene by heart, he knew there 
must be something queer. She was called for, as usual, directly 
the curtain was down, and after the audience had amused them- 
selves by making a row for ten minutes or so, the stage-manager 
came on, and regretted to inform them that Mrs. Brandreth had 
fainted after the fatigue of the performance, and was too indis^ 
posed to appear in answer to their gratifying summons." 

" Then it was only a fainting fit, I suppose," says Lady Hunter. 

" Queer kind of fainting fit, according to Charley Brown. 
He'd noticed all through that last act that she talked rather 
queerly — muddled her words somehow — jumbled the syllables 
together. He says he doesn't expect she'll act again until she's 
been to Malvern, or Ems, or Chiswick, or somewhere, and been 
patched up by the doctors. Cerebral excitement, Charley says, 
something queer in the upper story. He goes to her Sunday 
evenings, and knows a good deal about her. She has been more 
excitable lately than she used to be — Charley says it's a case of 
brandy or chloral." 

Mr. Brown proves himself a shrewd observer. The Frivolity 
is closed that evening, and until the end of the week, on account 
of Mrs. Brandreth's serious indisposition, say the advertisements 
in the daily papers. Paragraphs appear in the newspapers to 
the effect that the accomplished actress has overtasked her 
strength, that the scabbard is out of repair, the sword having 
been a trifle too sharp for it. Tension of nerves, exalted tem- 
perament ; the papers ring the changes on this theme, and an- 
nounce that Sir William Gull has made this interesting case his 
especial care ; but no paragraph states the precise nature of Mrs. 
Brandretl''" mn,n, ! v 

3^2 Hostages to Fortune. 

Society talks a good deal and speculates widely. The 
favourite theory is that Mrs. Brandreth has gone clean out or! 
her mind, and is languishing in a suburban establishment, under 
distinguished medical treatment. Society opines that Lord 
Earlswood's unkindness is the cause of this calamity ; and wax- 
ing compassionate, pronounces that his lordship has behaved badly. 

The house in Kensington Gore is shut up. The Frivolity re- 
opens after less than a week's reldche. Kismet is revived, with 
Miss Belormond, desperately coached, in Mrs. Brandreth's part, 
and fails to attract large audiences. The evil genius of bur- 
lesques gets possession of the delightful little theatre ; fast 
young men, and women in doubtful toilettes and dyed hair, 
frequent the stalls that were erst the resort of the best people 
in London. The newspapers lament Mrs. Brandreth's absence, 
and an occasional paragraph informs the public that a new 
comedy by an eminent hand is in progress, in which the accom- 
plished actress will reappear. 

Little by little, before the season is quite over, the truth leaks 
out. The awful word paralysis is whispered here and there ; 
and society, after setting up its own idea of lunacy, gets to 
know somehow that Myra Brandreth is being drawn about the 
quiet avenues of Leamington in a Bath-chair, helpless, fretful, 
semi-idiotic. The over-worked mind has given way. A para- 
lytic stroke has been followed by softening of the brain : and 
for Myra this world is henceforth a faint and shadowy picture, 
and' one day f olloweth another without progress or difference. 
There is neither yesterday nor to-morrow in this death-in-life : 
time is an endless to-day. 

o * a e o e «* 

Before the unfolding of the gummy chestnut buds in Ken- 
sington Gardens, Lord Earlswood reappears in the only world 
which his wearied soul finds tolerable. He has spent his winter 
in wanderings far and wide — has tried yachting in the Mediter- 
ranean, and Iras been all but capsized in a sudden squall — has 
hunted in the Campagna, and assisted at a Roman steeplechase 
— has spent February and March in a boat between Cairo and 
the cataracts — and has found- all these various modes of getting 
rid of time and money equally insupportable. 

On returning to London and civilisation he throws himself 
vehemently into coaching, and drives the finest team of roans 
ever seen in the Park with some skill and a countenance of un- 
alterable gloom. He has a skewbald team, hideous beyond ex- 
pression, and painfully suggestive of Astley's Amphitheatre and 
the cavalry of Hyder Ali or Timur the Tartar, but reputed the 
finest possible thing in skewbalds. These he drives on alternate 
days, with the faithful Shlooker on the box beside him, and a 

Hostages to Fortune. 353 

friendly group of the worst men in London behind. No feminine 
form has ever been seen on Lord Earlswood's drag. 

''I wouldn't have so much as a mare in my stable," says his 
lordship when rallied on that deliberate avoidance of the sex 
which has lately been a marked idiosyncrasy in this shining light 
of the Coaching Club. " I wouldn't have anything to remind 
me that there are women in the world — I hate them so." 

In the indulgence of this idiosyncrasy Lord Earlswood with- 
draws himself wholly from general society — is never known to 
enter opera-house or theatre — begins his day at about five in 
the afternoon, when he dresses for parade in Hyde Park, and 
finishes his evening, at the last fashionable temple dedicated to 
the worship of blind-hookcy or poker, just when the east 
brightens with pearl and rose, and the thrushes and blackbirds 
stir themselves in their nests and break forth into little gurgles 
and gushes of rejoicing. At this tender half-mysterious hour 
Lord Earlswood may be seen emerging from the fashionable 
temple, a little the worse for his worship of the goddess Fortune 
— pale, gloomy of brow, and with eyes that are glassy from the 
glare of tho gas. 

His friends and followers opine that Lord Earlswood is going, 
at a very decent pace, to the dogs ; but as he is temperate in his 
habits still and has no low vices, it may reasonably be hoped 
that, despite his aversion from the sex, some really good woman 
may yet take him in hand, reform him, and make him happy. The 
mothers of Belgravia have an eye upon him, and at the least sign 
of repentance he will be welcomed back to the fold. And, 0, will 
there not be rejoicing over the return of such an eligible sinner ! 
o o e ft * o » 

Placidly pass the days in Herman's new home among the hills. 
Nearly a year has gone since Editha first brought her husband to 
the cottage, which they have christened Crowsnest, and Herman 
has taken no advantage of the loop line which brings the rail to 
Lochwithian, and makes Shrewsbury and London so much the more 
accessible. He has often talked of running up to town, but he 
has not yet gone ; and he wonders at himself not a little, and 
wonders still more at the various occupations afforded by rustic 
life. He has his library and his garden, both hobbies in a mild 
way. He has a couple of handsome hacks for Editha and him- 
self, and a cast-iron pony for a basket carriage, and a good deal 
of horse-worship goes on every morning oetween nine and ten in 
the sweet clover-scented stable, where the decorative work in 
plaited straw is a sight to see. They ride, they drive baby in the 
pony carriage. They sketch a little occasionally, they go fern- 
hunting, botanise a little, and set up a wilderness on the outskirts 
of their orderly garden, to which they l>>-ing the woodland and 

351 Hostages to Fortune. 

hillside flowers they find in their rambles. Herman gets to 
know the hills by heart, and takes them to his heart, as Editha 
has done. They have more friends than they can count ; these 
honest warm Welsh hearts have opened very wide to receive 
Herman Westray. 

The simple pleasures of his life leave him ample time for hie 
work. He has those tranquil evening hours — between sundown 
and midnight — at which he has ever found his brain most active, 
his fancy brightest. He spends many a long summer day reading 
and musing over his books in the garden, and he contrives to read 
more in this last summer than in any year of his life since he 
gave his laborious hours to the Greek dramatists, philosophers, 
and historians at the University. 

In this pure air, among these breezy hills, the baby grows and 
flourishes abundantly, an object of universal love, a blooming 
blue-eyed boy, bestowing affection as lavishly as he receives it, 
but loving mamma best of all, as he informs his friends candidly, 
in his imperfect utterance. He loves Jack the pony vevy much, 
and papa, and Swish the Scotch terrier, and grandpa, and Mr. 
Pezzerit (infantine for Petherick) ; but mamma is first and best, 
mamma is so good — everybody loves mamma best. And Editha 
presses the chubby flatterer to herheart, and blushes at his praise. 

Herman does good work in that quiet room facing the hills — 
work that he knows and feels to be honestly done — not that old 
slap-dash colouring of his, with more of the palette-knife than 
the brush, and the canvas a little too obvious through the paint ; 
work that he would believe in were it even a failure in its im- 
mediate effect upon the world. Happily his new book is not a 
failure. The Censor has its accustomed sneer. The Microcosm 
is doubtful, and compares Herman disparagingly with its half 
dozen pet authors — writers whose works enjoy a limited sale and 
the approval of high-class critics. The Connoisseur praises the 
book warmly, and the public are delighted with it. This last 
book is more popular than anything Herman has ever written, 
and Editha has the delight of knowing that she has helped her 
husband, instead of hindering him in his onward and upward 
career. Sweet are those autumn days in which Herman gives 
himself a holiday after the publication of his last story, and 
Editha and he go together to explore the wilder scenery of North 
Wales. The descendant of the Cimbri glows with patriotic pride 
as they stand beside the Swallow Falls, and Herman acknowledges 
that there is nothing in Switzerland finer than this Cambrian 
cataract. Still sweeter is it a little later in the evening, as they 
drive back to their hotel in the twilight, to hear him say with 
conviction, " Editha, this has been the happiest year in my life." 



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